Avery Johnson: Either Johnson is still a Spur at heart or he just enjoys throwing games, because last night's coaching poop-fiesta not only jerked defeat straight out of the snapping jaws of victory, it also proved -- once again -- that having a micro-managing control freak for a coach can absolutely kill a team down the stretch*. The Little General not only watched his team surrender a 10-point lead at the end of the third quarter, he actually contributed to the Spurs' game-changing 13-1 run by drawing a technical foul for beefing with the officials. Jason Terry also got T'ed up during that stretch. So Johnson can't control himself, and he can't control his players. That's shades of Rick Adelman and the early 90s Portland Trail Blazers. And that does not instill me with a great sense of hope for the Mavericks' playoff hopes.

*For further reading, please refer to the 2006 NBA Finals and/or the First Round of the 2007 Western Conference Playoffs.

But Johnson's greatest boner of the night was benching Jason Kidd for the final 30 seconds of the game. That's the same Jason Kidd that the Mavericks mortgaged their future for. The same Jason Kidd that supposedly gives the Mavs their best chance of winning a champtionship. The same Jason Kidd who is the starting point guard, the team's only true playmaker, and one of the greatest passers in the history of the NBA. Yes, folks, that Jason Kidd. So, instead of having Kidd try to create a play to get Dirk and company a nice, open shot, Johnson watched his team's final possessions go down like this: Dirk Nowitzki missed fadeaway jump shot, Dirk Nowitzki missed layup, Erick Dampier missed tip-in, and Jason Terry missed jump shot, stuffed by Bruce Bowen. Game over.

Right after the Kidd trade finally went through, Johnson had this to say: "He's going to help us, because at the end of games he just knows how to win. A big steal, a big block, a big rebound, big three, his penetration." So what happened between then and last night? Why didn't Johnson roll the dice with Mr. Big Block, Big Rebound, Big Three, Big Penetration? Here's why: "We wanted to spread the floor and give Dirk more room to operate." Okay. I get that...I guess. Kidd's an awful shooter. But you know who was on the floor for that final 30 seconds? Erick Dampier. Does Dampier open up a floor more than Kidd? I really don't think so. And I understand that Ericka was in there for her rebounding -- and she did take, and miss, a tip-in on the Mavs' final possession -- but, honestly, who would you rather have on the floor with game on the line and your team down by two points: Kidd or Dampier? I mean, is that even a question?

This may be an overreaction, and you all know by now that I'm occasionally prone to those, but I feel like I watched Dallas get knocked out of the playoffs already. Because of their coach.

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry's clutchability: Forget their awful shooting -- a combined 7-for-25 on the night -- these guys couldn't hit a shot to win a game if their grandmas were in some sort of superhero-style death trap (I'm thinking a giant, bone-chilling snowcone or maybe huge pot full of grandma-eating flowers) and the old ladies' very lives depended on it. How many Dallas games over the last few years have ended the way last night's game did? Here's the answer: A lot. Kidd was supposed to fix this problem, but, great as he is, he can't fix anything from the pine.

Basketbawful: I really didn't think that sending DeSagana Diop to the Nets as part of the Kidd trade was that big of a deal. And I still don't. Mostly. But after watching Tim Duncan's 31-point, 15-rebound performance, I'm willing to concede that I might have been...not totally, 100 percent right about that.

The Trillion Twosome: As correctly pointed out by an anonymous reader, there were a couple trillion performances last night: Sean "I scored 1280 on the SAT" Williams had a two trillion while Kurt "I'm the final piece of San Antonio's championship puzzle" Thomas trudged his way to a four trillion. Note: The anonymous poster thought there was actually a hat trick of trillions. Unfortunately, Dorell "Mr." Wright actually scored 8 points and had a rebound against the Lakers.

The Milwaukee Bucks bench: Do you think that Larry Krystkowiak ever looks down his bench and wants to throw up in his mouth a little bit? Milwaukee's support staff contributed only 8 points in the Bucks' 120-106 loss to the Nets, and all of those points came from Charlie Bell (5) and Michael Ruffin (3). Yi Jianlian was the next "best" player off the bench with zero points (0-for-2), 1 rebound, 1 turnover, and 3 fouls in 10 minutes of lack-tion. Then there was Royal Ivey, who played almost 7 minutes and contributed 1 turnover. Dan Gadzuric played 2 minutes and had matched Ivey's turnover. Jake Voskuhl? 1 minute, 1 turnover. Bobby Simmons chipped in with a DNP-CD, which was probably the best thing he could have done.

Jason Williams: Pat Riley's going to throw a party when this guy's $9 million salary comes off the books after this season. I'd be willing to bet my collector's set of fake Larry Bird mustaches on it. Last night, Jason Williams might have lost his starting job to Marcus Banks -- yes, that Marcus Banks -- by scoring zero points (0-for-3), dishing only 3 assists, and racking up a +/- score of -19.

Dwyane Wade: Pookie's descent into sub-superstar status continued to continue last night. And you might not be able to tell from the raw numbers, but Kobe Bryant stuck Wade's head on a spit, cooked it over an open fire, and then ate it. With ketchup. It was a comedy of sadness, kind of like watching the UFC's heavyweight champion get into a fistfight with the guy who set the world record for extreme ironing. Flash missed 11 of his 17 shots, committed 4 turnovers -- including one in which Mamba stripped him clean and ran the ball downcourt for an uncontested dunk -- and almost fouled out of the game. And don't think for a minute that Kobe didn't enjoy rubbing Wade's nose in it.

Pat Riley: When Riles realized that he could actually sucker another team into taking on Shaq's cap-crippling contract, he couldn't push The Big Injury out the door fast enough. Now he's bellyaching about not having his former center. Here's a sample of Riley's post-game lament: "We won a championship with that kind of game -- being able to post up, being able to run some, pick-and-roll a ton and isolate the top of the lane a lot. And now, we don't have that one dimension. So we're going to have to play differently. When you have a dominant guy like Shaq, whose presence is like a magnet, I don't care what kind of game you play. Eventually that guy's got his hand under the basket and he just forces you to throw it into him. But we don't have a post-up player, so you can't slow it down." Wait, what? It's not like anybody was holding a gun to Riley's head and forcing him to send Shaq away. Does Riley even know what he's saying anymore? Or what he's doing? Seriously, I think it's long past time for Riles to call it a career. He's lost it, his team has lost it, and it's time for a fresh start for everybody.

Derek Fisher's shooting touch: You can't measure Fisher's contributions by numbers alone. He's a character guy who provides savvy, cunning, and a much-needed dose of veteran leadership. But up until the Pau Gasol trade, Fish was having a career season shooting the basketball (nearly 50 percent from the field). Since then, his percentage has plummeted to 44.6, and last night's 2-for-11 shooting performance is becoming more of a rule than the exception. Maybe it's just the Law of Large Numbers catching up with him, but I figured Fisher's shooting might get even better with Gasol around to open up the floor.

Kidd and Avery-001

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Antoine Walker: Basketbawful reader Jochem de Graas was quick to pick up on the rather laughable pretext for Employee #8's absence from the Timberwolve's matchup against the Raptors: "The reason Antoine Walker didn't play last night: Minnesota forward Antoine Walker didn't travel to Toronto because of what Wittman called 'a passport problem.' On the bottom under game notes. That's more creative then flu-like symptons." True enough, Jochem. If the NBA ever expands to Europe, I predict that "passport problems" will become the new "flu-like symptoms." You heard it here first, folks.

The Orlando Magic starting backcourt: Jameer Nelson and Maurice Evans combined to score only 2 points (1-for-6) in 43 minutes of lack-tion. Nelson at least dished out 7 assists; Evans' line of zero points, zero rebounds, zero assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal and 1 foul made me wonder whether something tragic had happened to a close family member. His mind obviously wasn't in the game, and his body was barely there either.

Kevin Martin: We did mention that he's The Man in Sacramento now that Mike Bibby's gone, right? Well, when's he going to start playing like it? Speedracer scored a mere 6 points on 2-for-9 shooting against Bibby's new team. And the rest of his stat line was just as uninspiring: 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 steals, 2 personal fouls, and a +/- score of -19...worst on the team. Also, the Atlanta backcourt lit the place on fire (Bibby had 24 points and 12 assists, Joe Johnson scored 26). I do like me a good revenge game. Congrats, Bib. It's too bad that, at the end of the day, you're still a Hawk.

Kirk Hinrich: Captain Kirk set his phaser to "suck" once again. Two night after getting ejected for arguing an out-of-bounds call, Hinrich got benched 56 seconds into the third quarter -- for Larry Hughes, no less -- and never returned. Said Chicago coach Jungle Jim Boylan: "I said there's competition out here. Bring your 'A' game or come down and sit next to me. That's the way that went tonight. I just didn't like the way the first couple possessions went. Everybody's accountable and there are no exceptions." Hinrich scored 6 points (2-for-3) and dished 3 assists in the 16 minutes and 35 seconds he was on the floor. After the game, he left the locker room "quickly without commenting."

Shawne Williams: According to the AP game recap, "Pacers F Shawne Williams (personal reasons) left at halftime and didn’t return." Well, here are those reasons: "A man wanted for murder in Memphis, Tenn., was arrested Wednesday night after leaving the home of Indiana Pacers forward Shawne Williams on the Northeastside, according to Indianapolis metropolitan police." It doesn't get much more "personal" than harboring a murdering fugitive from justice, does it. For his part, Williams said, "I feel like I let my organization (and) my teammates down, along with the Simon brothers (team owners Mel and Herb) and my family." Williams also said that he "wasn't very close" with Rollins, and would be more careful in the future. Mind you, this incident comes only a few days after a woman was allegedly raped at Marquis Daniels' home (though not by Daniels) during a "small gathering." Man, the Pacers really need to start making better friends.

Travis Diener: This is how I put it in my NBA Closer column over at Deadspin: "After Larry Hughes lit the Pacers up for 29 points (10-for-19) in Chicago's 113-107 victory, Dick Diener's little nephew shamelessly abused the English language by stringing the following nonsense words together: "[Hughes] is a good player. There's a reason he has a big contract. They don't just throw money away to [bad] players." Oh yes they do, Travis. They most certainly do. Exhibit A: Stephon Marbury is currently making $20,109,375 (the third highest salary in the league). Exhibit B: Raef LaFrentz (1.7 PPG, 1.6 RPG) is making $11,813,750. Exhibit C: Antoine Walker and Kwame Brown are both making around $9 million this season...and Employee #8 still has three years and $30 million left on his contract! (Have fun choking down that buyout, Kevin.) So I think it's been pretty firmly established that "they" do indeed reward bad players with fat contracts."

Wally Szczerbiak: Wasn't Wally World supposed to be an upgrade over Larry Hughes? On a night in which Hughes led his new team to victory on the road by scoring 29 points on 10-for-19 shooting, Szczerbiak scored 12 points on 3-for-13 shooting...a performance so close to the Cleveland Cavaliers version of Larry Hughes that I'm starting to wonder if the two players didn't just switch bodies or something.

Dwyane Jones and Billy Thomas: These two men arose from the Cleveland bench to play 29 seconds a piece and go zero-for-everything. Yet, amazingly, they both had a +/- score of +5, which tied for second-best on the team -- and much, much better than LeBron's -13. So I guess that means the Cavs would have won if those guys had just gotten some more playing time, right? Riiiiight. I just love these New Age stats.

Brian Scalabrine: A few weeks ago, Brian was Boston's starting power forward. Now that Kevin Garnett has returned to the lineup, he's racked up six straight DNP-CDs. Of course, we're supposed to believe he has a strained right groin and not a case of the "Thanks for filling in and everything, but now that KG's back we don't really need you anymore."

LeBron James: The King scored the 10,000th point of his NBA career, becoming the youngest player in league history to reach the 10K mark (23 years and 59 days). But James' misguided shooting (7-for-24) sunk the Cavs' chances of upsetting the Celtics in Boston. (And yes, I know he sprained his ankle.)

The Charlotte Bobcats: They didn't just lose to the Knicks, they got blown the hell out. Sure, Gerald Wallace was out and Jason Richardson left early because he got poked in the eye. But we at Basketbawful have exacting standards, and every loss to New York warrants a mention in Worst of the Night.

Eddy Curry: On a night when the Knicks were lighting up the scoreboard like an old-school pinball machine, E-City scored zero points (0-for-3) and grabbed 3 rebounds in 15 minutes of listless lack-tion before getting intimately acquainted (again) with the Madison Square Garden bench.

The Phoenix Suns defense: This is probably a bogus Worst of the Night entry, since there is no Phoenix Suns defense. Also, Boris Diaw continued to suck, so badly in fact that I'm not even going to give him his own entry. He is officially dead to me.

Rasheed Wallace: 'Sheed had another one of "those games," shooting 2-for-12 from the field and 0-for-5 beyond the arc. There's no word as of yet how many of those three-point attempts were left-handed.

The Seattle SuperSonics defense: Yet another nonexistent D. The Sonics played defense with the passion and fire of a bunch of cardboard cutouts of the Wizard of Oz munchkins, giving up an NBA season-high in points (138) and a Denver franchise record in field goal percentage (67). If we find out later today that Bill Walton's head exploded last night, I promise you this game will be the reason why.

Kevin Durant: I just hate this guy's game. I hate it. I read yesterday that a TrueHoop reader compared Durant to Pistol Pete Maravich and I swear to my savage pagan gods that I projectile vomited on the spot. Are you kidding me? No, seriously, are you kidding me?! The comparison is valid only insomuch as any high-scoring, heralded rookie who has a rough start in the league could be compared to Pete. The exact same thing could have been said about Adam Morrison last year. The difference is, Pete Maravich was an absolute sensation in college, and in the NBA, even if his first season went much more poorly than expected. Durant does not possess the Pistol's artistry nor his flare for the dramatic, not to mention his crazy handles. Maravich was one-of-a-kind..he revolutionized the way the game was played! Yeaargh! Okay. Okay, I'm done. Michael from Seattle, I know you'll never see this, but please, for the love of all that's pure and good about the sport of professional basketball, do not ever blaspheme the name of Pete Maravich like that again. (Sidenote: Durant scored 16 points on 17 shots last night. Potential ROYs should be able to average at least one point per shot, in my book.)

Blazers versus Clippers: This ended up being a very exciting game, but the first three quarters, well, they weren't exactly easy on the eyes. As Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm put it in an email to me: "Hragnn...Clippers...39...Portland...42...with 7:45 gnarhc...in 3rd quarter...negativ basketbooool, maiking...meee stooopid..."

Shaq tired-001

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DeSagana Diop: The Man The Mavericks Should Not Have Given Up had yet another sucksational game last night: Zero points (0-for-0), 3 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, and 5 fouls in 9 minutes of lack-tion. For the record, those are Greg Kite-like numbers.

Vince Carter: Half-Man, Half-I-Hate-Physical-Contact led the Nets with 26 points, but it took him 23 shots to get there. And according to the shot chart, 18 of those attempts were jumpers...seven of which were catapulted from at least 27 feet out. I'll give him a mulligan on the 42-footer he launched at the end of the second quarter, but that doesn't change the fact that he's not even trying to take it to the rim anymore.

Sacramento Kings: Well, it had to happen at some point. Some unlucky team was going to hand the Miami Heat their 10th win of the season, and that unlucky team was the Kings. And they did it in truly craptacular fashion, scoring 11 points in the third quarter on 2-for-20 shooting en route to a 21-point blowout.

Ron Artest: If you haven't already read about Ron Artest's soon-to-be-famous "They were trying to get government cheese, and I'm Kraft" quote, you have now. Now that Mike Bibby is out of the picture, Artest finally has the chance to be the Big Cheese in Sacramento. But last night, he was just the Big Cheez Whiz, shooting 3-for-14 and getting lit up on defense.

Pat Riley: I know it's been a long time between wins, but that doesn't really explain the following post-game quote from Riles: "I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony. I know what to do. I just don’t know where to start." And I feel like a dog in a backyard trying to decide whether or not to eat my own poop.

The Cleveland Cavaliers' end-of-game defense: LeBron James hit a layup with 5.9 seconds left, after which the Bucks inbounded to Michael Redd, who drove unmolested down the length of the court before hitting the game-winning shot at the buzzer over the outstretched hands of Wally Szczerbiak. Said LeBron: "There's nothing you can do about that. The guy made a 35-footer fading away." Well, first of all, it was a 27-footer, and second of all...nothing you can do about it?! There were less than 6 seconds left in the game. They knew Redd would have to take the ball at least 70 feet and take a quick shot, so why not double-team him or use a full-court press to get the ball out of his hands. Why give the opposing team's best player a chance to win the game?

Wally Szczerbiak: Not only did he get immortalized in Redd's poster, Wally World shot 5-for-18 from the field. You know, when the Cavs acquired him to fill Larry Hughes shooter/scorer role, they didn't intend for him to actually shoot like Larry Hughes. How's that PER comparison looking now, Mr. Hollinger?

Yi Jianlian: Haven't heard Yi's name in the highlights lately? There's a reason for that. He sucks. Last night Yao's heir scored 2 points (0-for-1) in 15 minutes of off-the-bench lack-tion. Kwame Brown and Andrea Bargnani had better look out...Yi is starting to eye the "Worst Draft Pick Ever" crown.

ESPN's NBA Playlist: Can you find Waldo in ESPN's playlist of videos from last night's NBA action? Here, let me help you...

ESPN playlist

Raja Bell: On a night in which his team shot almost 60 percent from the field, Raja missed all his two-point field goal attempts and hit only 3-for-12 overall. Didn't Shaq say he was going to make Raja the best shooter in the league? He's only 8-for-29 in the four games he's played with the Big Cactus.

Kwame Brown: From starting center to DNP-CD in just one game.

Marc Iavaroni: After his Grizzlies got caught in the Suns' bear trap, the former Phoenix assistant said: "I think they were just trying to outscore us." There's some crack analysis, huh? First off, it's the Phoenix Suns. Secondly, isn't the goal of every basketball game to outscore your opponents? Just checking, but I'm pretty sure that's the case.

Utah Jazz: There is no excuse whatsoever for a Western Conference playoff contender and division leader to lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves. For today, I am ashamed to be a Jazz fan.

Antoine Walker: You'll notice he hasn't been on the Minnesota roster for a few games. That's because Fatoine wants the T-Wolves to buy him out so he can go get more playing time for a contender. You might be tempted to think that last sentence was the result of all the glue I sniffed this morning, but I promise you that it's the God's honest truth.

Fickle Fate: Yao Ming, injured again, this time with a stress fracture in his left foot. It's not easy being a giant, it just isn't. And it looks like Yao may require surgery to implant a couple screws in his foot to hold the bones together. I'm guessing that wouldn't do a lot to improve his already limited mobility. I can't tell you how much Yao's injury saddens and disappoints me.

The Washington Wizards: The Wiz scored a franchise-low 23 points in the first half, shot 31 percent for the game, and received a 94-69 spanking from the now Yao-less Rockets. Remember all those "They're playing so well without Gilbert Arenas" stories? Man, that seems like a long time ago.

DeShawn Stevenson: The Locksmith followed up his first-ever game-winning shot with an ugly 5-point, 2-for-12 performance. I guess he celebrated a little too hard the night before.

Dikembe Mutombo: The ancient center had this to say after starting in place of the injured Yao: "I believe I set the tempo early and everybody just followed." Now, don't get me wrong, because Mount Mutombo played pretty well for an old guy. But well past the point of setting tempo, unless it's for a funeral march. Edit: Oops. I was wrong. He really did set the tempo.

Seattle SuperSonics: It's not so much that they lost -- I stopped expecting anything out of the Sonics months ago -- it's that they let Austin Croshere beat them (14 points, 6-for-6 shooting, all in the second half). You can never trust a team that gets beaten by Austin Croshere.

Al Harrington: He scored 5 points on 2-for-9 shooting last night. That's not his worst game of the season, but it is a reminder that the Harrington-for-Dunleavy Jr. swap has -- so far -- been a bigger benefit for the Pacers than the Warriors. And that's bad.

Kelenna Azubuike: This second-year man out of London, England was last night's one trillion award winner. Congratulations, Kelenna!

Derek Fisher: Fish was a big part of the Lakers' resurgence earlier this season, but he's been The Forgotten Man in L.A.'s offense since the Pau Gasol trade. And last night's 2-point performance was the first game this season he failed to hit a single field goal (0-for-4).

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KG and Ted

The San Antonio Spurs: Everybody always talks about what a competitive bastard Kobe Bryant is, but what about those Spurs, huh? They must have seen the video I posted of Zach Randolph's poop stew of a possession and said, "You think that sucked, Basketbawful? Well, we're going to show you craptastic suckitude on a grand and historic level. And then we'll win anyway." And I'll be damned if they weren't as good as the words I imagined they said. The defending champs scored five points -- five points!! -- in the first quarter, setting new franchise lows in points, field goals made (1-for-17), and field goal percentage (6) in a single 12-minute session.

Fun fact: The Spurs' previous low in points for a quarter was eight, which they most recently had on Christmas Day in 2005 at Detroit.

The Atlanta Hawks: When you hold your opponent to five points on 6 percent shooting in the first quarter, you're probably well on your way to a nice, easy win. Unless, of course, you are the Atlanta Hawks, who have been snatching defeat from the jaws of victory since 1968. And make no mistake: This loss was a group effort. The Hawks shot 33 percent as a team and committed 22 turnovers. All-Star Joe Johnson hit only 5-of-12 shots and threw the ball away 6 times. Mike Bibby couldn't throw a ping pong ball in the ocean (1-for-11). Josh Smith shot 2-for-12 and lost the ball 8 times. Mario Williams scored a one trillion. Say it with me once again: They are who we thought they were.

Marquis Daniels: A woman was allegedly raped at Daniels' home during a "small gathering." According to the police, Daniels is not a suspect. Said Daniels: "I don't know what happened. I wasn't involved." He wasn't involved in a small gathering held at his own house? What, did a roving band of criminals break in and decide to throw a rape party? I doubt it. Brawls, shootings, more shootings, mascot assault and battery...am I the only person who's tired of seeing random Pacers in the Indianapolis police blotter? Or am I the last Pacers fan alive? Anyone out there? Anyone? Bueller?

Travis Diener: I'm not going to going to mention the whole "name rhymes with wiener" thing -- oops, I mentioned it -- because the real issue was his 2-for-10 shooting performance. What, the Pacers miss Jamaal Tinsley so much they replaced him with sombody who shoots even worse? Diener's hitting 33 percent of his shots on the season. He's only hit 50 percent of his shots once in 10 games this month, and he's had nights of 2-for-8, 1-for-7, 2-for-8 again, 1-for-7 again, 2-for-6, and 3-for-9. I thought white guards were supposed to be able to shoot. That's what they do, right? Shoot?

Andrea Bargnani: His 25-point discharge against the Knicks had me a little worried. I thought I was going to lose one of my favorite human dartboards. But, again, he is who we thought he was: 2 points (1-for-5) and 3 turnovers. Not his worst game by any stretch of the imagination, but it merits Worst of the Night mention since it immediately followed so many foolishly raised expectations.

Kirk Hinrich: Captain Kirk set his phaser to "suck" last night, scoring zero points (0-for-2) to go along with 2 assists and 3 turnovers in 11 minutes of playing time. Oh, and did I mention he got tossed near the end of the first half for arguing with referee Monty McCutchen that a loose ball was knocked out of bounds by Jason Kidd. Getting yourself ejected when your team is up by 30 is kind of stupid, but getting thrown out when your team is in a dog fight against a good team on the road is [puts on Bill Walton hat] selfish, irresponsible, self-aggrandizing, and just plain terrible.

Luol Deng: He scored 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting, which isn't the strongest case for Worst of the Night status, until you consider that John Paxson absolutely refused to trade for Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, or even Kobe Bryant if Deng was to be included in the trade. How'd that work out for you, Pax?

Bill Simmons: The man who consistently loses out to his wife on NFL picks bashed the Jason Kidd trade because Kidd can't shoot (5-for-7 last night), can't get to the hole anymore (3-for-4 on layups), can't make things any easier for Dirk (29 points, 10 rebounds), and Jerry Stackhouse is washed up (23 points, 7-for-11). Good calls, one and all, Bill. Sure, it's only one game, and it was against the Bulls. But still...

J.R. Smith: He faked Chauncey Billups out on a crossover and drew a foul with 6.5 seconds remaining and the Nuggets down by two. Then he went and gonked both freethrows and the Pistons went on to win 98-93. Hey, maybe the Detroit fans distracted hi...wait, what? They were playing in Denver? Never mind, then. Said Smith: "I feel awful." No. You feel basketbawful. Edit: My bad, guys and gals. Basketbawful reader Andrew correctly informed me that the Nuggets were down three when Smith got fouled on a three-point attempt. Smith made the first 'throw, boned the second, then intentionally missed the third. It is, nonetheless, still awful.

Marcus Camby: While I'm dissing on the Nuggets, let's not forget Mr. "I shoulda been an All-Star" Camby, who shot 1-for-8 last night. He was 0-for-1 on layups and 1-for-7 on jumpers. Only one of his shots -- the layup -- came in the paint. He's a center, right? Thinks he should have been an All-Star center, right? Okay. Just checking.

The Los Angeles Clippers: You know what? Forget it. They've been through enough.

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I already touched on Zach Randolph's pooptastic game against the Raptor's in Worst of the Weekend, but this thrilling video -- provided by Basketbawful reader Charles -- is the dollop of creamy turd pudding on top of the crap cake that Z-Bo served up last night:

Worst. Possession. Ever. Let me recap it for you:

1. Randolph, a (nearly) seven-footer, receives the ball outside of the three-point line.

2. He attempts to break down his defender by dribbling the hell out of the ball, sort of like Isiah Thomas circa 1989, only without the mad handles.

3. He totally loses the rock like somebody abusing the freestyle control on NBA Live and has to run almost out to halfcourt to retrieve it.

4. Then, instead of passing the ball to a teammate, he runs it to the arc and launches an airball...with 7 seconds left on the shot clock! (Thanks, herman).

The best part is when the camera pans to Isiah, who looks about ready to choke a bitch.

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Hong Kong

On Friday...

Kevin Martin: Trading Mike Bibby to the Atlanta Hawks was supposed to be a sign that the Maloof brothers are ready to build their King-dom around Kevin Martin. But based on Martin’s 1-for-8, 1-rebound, 2-assist night against the Charlotte Bobcats, they might want to investigate some alternative architectural designs.

DeSagana Diop: When the Jason Kidd trade (finally) went down, a lot of people said – screamed, even - that the Mavs were crazy to include Diop in the deal. Uh, the dude's averaging 2.9 PPG and 5 RPG. I wouldn’t exactly call that "irreplaceable." And sure enough, he was very replaceable against the Pacers: zero points (0-for-1) and 5 rebounds.

David Harrison: Science has yet to unlock the amazing power of invisibility. Maybe Science should ask Harrison, who made his hulking seven-foot, 300-pound body disappear by scoring a four trillion against the Nets.

Toronto Raptors: Dino fans want people to take their team more seriously, but it's hard to do that when they cough up a season-high in points to Jamal Crawford (43) and lose to the Knicks.

Anthony Parker: He had some...interesting things to say after his team lost in New York: "I don't think you can look at their record and say, 'Oh, it’s a bad team.' I think they’'e shown they can go into D.C. and get a win. They are capable of going into Philly and getting beaten pretty badly. They've got a lot of talent and a lot of options. I think they played well tonight." I don't know about you, but I can look at a 17-win team and say TThat's a bad team." I can even say, "They're a very bad team." In fact, I can say "They're a crap-coated poopsicle" and not feel as though I've overstated things.

The Washington Wizards's defense: Since Ben Wallace, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith, and Delonte West couldn't play yet for Cleveland, the Cavs had to start Eric Snow and sign a couple D-Leaguers (Billy Thomas and Kaniel Dickens) to 10-day contracts just to meet the league-required eight-man minimum. And they still beat the Wizards, mostly because the Washington defense was about as effective as a Wal-mart door greeter. Not only did they fail to get a hand anywhere in the vicinity of Damon Jones' face – he was 10-for-16, 7-for-11 from Three Land - they gave up a one-point lead with 7.8 seconds left because they improbably refused to double-team LeBron James, who bullied his way to the hoop, drew the foul, and then hit the game-winning freethrows. Mind you, the Cavaliers had both Snow and Thomas on the floor for that final possession. Wouldn't you rather double or even triple-team LeBron and make one of those guys beat you? Apparently Eddie Jordan wouldn't.

Michael Ruffin: Did you know that Ruffin is still in the league and playing for the Bucks? I couldn't believe it, either. It was like finding out my dad didn't really die in that car accident when I was five, and that he's actually Joan Rivers. Anyway, Ruffin got some PT against the Pistons, but still played like he wasn’t there...with a four trillion.

The Denver Nuggets defense: The Bulls, short-handed and in the midst of a season of suck, rang up 135 points on 57 percent shooting against the Nuggets. That's it. I'm once again taking the "D" out of the Enver Nuggets until further notice.

Golden State Warriors: A home-court loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Oh, for shame, Golden State, for shame. That's like letting the captain of the high school math team come into your house and beat you up for your lunch money.

Portland Trail Blazers: They need to check the formula for their magic sauce, because the flavor's getting a little stale. And that loss to the SuperSonics was rough. Jarrett Jack shot 2-for-9, Steve Blake was 1-for-10, and the Blazers hit only 37 percent as a team.

Utah Jazz: There's no better cure for positive feelings and a good run of wins than losing to the Clippers. The Jazz got bullied by Al Thornton (27 points) and couldn't draw iron from downtown (0-for-13).

Ray Allen and Paul Pierce: It was the Big Three minus Two against the Suns, as Ray Ray and The Truth hit only 5-for-25 from the field and combined for 7 turnovers. Hello, Boston...welcome to the West.

Then on Saturday...

Ryan Hollins: This toothless Bobcat scored a two trillion against the Wizards.

DeSagana Diop: He had his second scoreless game in as many night against the Pacers. He also had 1 rebound, 1 turnover, and 1 personal foul. Yup, they're really missing this guy in Dallas...

Maurice Ager: Speaking of missing people in Dallas, this kid only got 27 seconds against the Pacers. Man, if he can't get time against Indiana, when will he get time?

The Miami Heat: God, these guys are a freaking embarrassment. I

Bonzi Wells: Mr. Instant Offense made his New Orleans debut and poured in 2 points on 1-for-7 shooting. In point of fact, he had more turnovers (3) than points. Good pickup, Hornets.

The Denver Nuggets: As if getting bitchslapped in Chicago wasn't bad enough, the Nuggets limped into Milwaukee and received another smackdown from a not-even-close-to-.500 team. Hey, don't they have two All-Stars and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year? Aren't Western teams supposed to be so much better than Eastern teams? What gives?

Jeremy Richardson: This little-used roleplayer for the Hawks spread his wings and soared into suck by scoring a five trillion against the Jazz.

And on the seventh day, they still sucked...

The Phoenix Suns: If you imagined a worst-case scenario when the Suns traded for Shaq, Sunday was it. It was, without question, the ugliest basketball that's been played in Phoenix since before Stephon Marbury was traded to the Knicks. I've seen better chemistry and teamwork on bad pickup teams. Said coach Mike D'Antoni: "Maybe we used all the adrenaline left these last two games. Emotionally, we've been on a high for the last three days and you wake up on Sunday at noon and we're not quite ready to play." Oooookay. Well, let's hope the Suns don't wake up on Sunday at noon again for the rest of the season. I don't think my eyes could take it.

Memphis Grizzlies: They started Kwame Brown. Need I say more?

Darko Milicic: He lost his starting job to Kwame Brown. Need I say more?

Kwame Brown: He was Kwame Brown (1 point, 0-for-3 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers in 20 minutes). Need I say more?

Delonte West: Everything I read said that Cleveland picked him up for his shootin' skillz. I, however, was not aware that he had any. And he certainly didn't show them off against the Grizzlies (2-for-12, 1-for-5 from beyond the arc).

Jameer Nelson: Call me old-fashioned, but I don't like it when my starting point guard shoots 1-for-11. That 1-fer is such a sad, lonely number.

Zach Randolph: Z-Bo shot 2-for-13 against the Raptors. Ugly. Stat Update: Zach has only 9 blocked shots in 52 games. His six-foot, two-inch teammate Fred Jones has 11 in 45 games.

Eddy Curry: He had a so-so offensive game - 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting - but he was absolutely lit up by Andrea Bargnani (25 points, 7 rebounds, and a career-high 5 three-pointers). What are the odds that Eddy will play defense this season? What about this decade?

Ben Gordon: His 5-point, 2-for-11 game probably wouldn't qualify for Worst of the Weekend if he hadn't declared himself to be the Bulls "best player" prior to the season. Or, for that matter, if his lackluster play hadn't made Larry Hughes look so good by comparison.

Kobe Bryant: The Black Mamba just can't help himself sometimes. It wasn't enough that his team was up 30-some points and on their way to an easy win - their eighth straight victory. He got a little roughed up while going for a rebound and argued hard enough to get a technical. Then he followed referee Brian Forte around and continued to complain until he got a second technical and an early trip to the locker room. Isn't this guy ever happy?

Yahoo box scores: Last night's Lakers/Sonics game sure was a strange one, if you believe the Yahoo box score. Both teams apparently went scoreless in the first quarter before L.A. outscored Seattle 62-43 in the second. Thanks to Basketbawful reader Scott Williams for the heads up.

box score

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In a turn of events only slightly less devastating than season-ending knee surgery, Greg Oden now has a frohawk. Or maybe the frohawk has him. I'm hoping Steve Blake follows suit and sports a Red Rooster.

Were you wondering why the Jerry Stackhouse trade'n waive was red flagged by the NBA, but it's perfectly fine to dust off an assistant coach or a stay-at-home dad to throw into the deal? You weren't the only one.

Candace Parker is leaving college early to play in the WNBA! But if they go three games without a dunk or a wardrobe malfunction, I'm going back to my Fresh Prince reruns.

Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon are on their way to becoming 2008 Hall of Fame inductees, but did everyone forget about Jon Koncak? Of course not!

Charles Barkley appeared on the CNN Situation Room and blasted political conservatives, calling them "fake Christians". Ann Coulter would later appear on NBA Inside Stuff and blast the "fake Charles Barkley".

Did you have a lousy Valentine's Day? It could have been much worse.

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T-Mac and Vince-001

[Hat tip to m. Alana of Billie Basquetbaäl. She sent me a lot of pictures, so get used to seeing her name.]

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Sweet Lincoln's mullet! Did somebody in the NBA head office fall asleep and mash their face all over the keyboard of the trade machine? There was a flurry of last-minute player movement over the last couple days, and most of it made very little rational sense. But don't worry about forming an opinion on all those crazy deals. I'll go ahead and do that for you.

Chicago Bulls: It's just like Teddy said to Leonard in Memento: "Someone has to pay, Lenny. Somebody always pays." John Paxson needed a scapegoat for the way he mismanaged his team's roster and continued to misjudge its talent. On Christmas Eve, the sacrificial lamb was coach Scott Skiles. Then, minutes before the trade deadline, it was Ben Wallace.

Wallace became the de facto poster boy for a Bulls team that has fallen wildly short of the lofty "We're going to the NBA Finals this year!" preseason expectations. That might not be fair - after all, the disappointing play of Luol Deng, Ben Gordan, and Kirk Hinrich has been at least as crippling - but it's true. That's the burden of being not only the team's highest paid player, but also the free agent acquisition that was supposed to catapult a promising young team into glory.

The Ben Wallace signing was a mistake from day one. And I'm not just speaking with the perfect 20-20 vision of 127 games worth of hindsight. Looking back to the summer of 2006, the Bulls wish list included "proven low post scorer" and "go-to scorer who can create his own shot, preferably a big guard who can also defend other big guards." Wallace couldn't address either of those needs. He can't score, not from the perimeter, the post, or the line. (I don't know if the NBA keeps stats on number of airballed freethrows, but I'm pretty sure Ben leads the league in that category.) What's worse is that Wallace's known skills - defense, rebounding, shot blocking - declined considerably about five seconds after he put on a Bulls uni for the first time.

I know why Pax signed him, though. Buying Ben Wallace away from the Pistons was as much a symbolic move as anything else. It was supposed to show that the Baby Bulls were "all growed up," a team to be taken seriously come playoff time. The fact that it weakened a division and conference rival didn't hurt either. Although the Pistons didn't suffer that much of a dropoff, and that was an ominous sign. As was Wallace's deteriorating stat line. As was the headband flap. As was Big Ben's habit of showing up late for practices and games...not often enough, maybe, to cause a full-blown controversy, but often enough to make management and fans question his passion and dedication.

Paxson should have made a big move last season. He should have aggressively pursued Pau Gasol when he had a lot of trade value in the likes of Deng and Gordan, not to mention P.J. Brown's big, fat, expiring contract. He also should have made a move over the summer. Anybody who watched the Pistons' systematically dispatch the Bulls in the second round of the playoffs should have been able to tell that Chicago was at least a piece or two short of making any kind of serious run at the Finals. I think some people were still delirious about that first-round sweep of the defending champion Miami Heat. But now we know for sure that The Sweep was more about the Heat falling than the Bulls rising. So once again Pax stood still while the Celtics got Kevin Garnett. He didn't bother to make a strong push for Kobe when it looked like The Mamba might be available, nor did he try to pry Gasol away from the Grizzlies. "I like our team," he said over and over again.

Oh well. You can't change the past. And now Ben Wallace is gone. In his place are Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes (plus Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown, but we all know they were just throw-ins). And actually, Gooden is probably a significant upgrade from Wallace. He's younger, can (kind of) score inside, and can actually hit his freethrows (who knew 72 percent would ever sound so good?). Hughes...well, he's an overpaid gunner who shoots a low percentage (37) and needs a lot of touches to be effective. Basically, he's a taller Ben Gordon.

I have no idea what the Bulls want with Hughes. They already have both Gordon and Thabo Sefolosha at the two-spot. I assume Hughes will probably start and Gordon will come off the bench, leaving Sefolosha (once again) in No Man's Land. I suppose it gives Paxson some off-season flexibility. With the Hughes security blanket - smelly and full of holes though it is - Pax can choose to not re-sign Ben Gordon, or maybe trade him. But for now, there's a logjam in the backcourt, where the Bulls have not one but two inefficient shooters.

Cleveland Cavaliers: I'm pretty sure this trade was not what LeBron James had in mind when he asked for more help. Kobe throws a bitch fit and gets Pau Gasol, while LeBron plays the good soldier and gets Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, and Delonte West. Doesn't give King James much of an incentive to play nice next time, does it? I've heard that this was a "win now" move for Danny Ferry and the Cavs. Win now? With Ben Wallace and Wally Szczerbiak? Seriously? Wallace is aging at an exponential rate. By next Thursday, he might be a skeleton in a tattered jersey with a wispy 'fro. That's a downgrade in my book. Wally, actually, is an improvement over Larry Hughes. He's a better shooter, which will provide better spacing for LeBron's many drives to the basket. Joe Smith was actually playing great for the Bulls, and he'll be a decent backup for Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Mike Brown will probably play West enough for a few games to find out why nobody wants him. All in all, the Cavs got a little bit better, but not enough that it'll matter come playoff time.

Detroit Pistons: Juan Dixon gives the Pistons another scoring guard off the bench. Dixon didn't like playing limited minutes in Toronto. But I'm sure he'll just love doing it in Detroit.

Houston Rockets: They got rid of locker room cancer Bonzi Wells and salary cap burden Mike James. That's a classic example of addition by subtraction. Bobby Jackson is a nice option to bring off the bench, plus he's tough and has playoff experience. Adam Haluska and Gerald Green were a couple of "whatevers" in this trade.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Let the Kirk Snyder Era officially begin! Wait, what? His contract expires at the end of the season? Never mind, then.

New Orleans Hornets: I heard that coach Byron Scott was concerned about the team's depth, which led to the acquisitions of Bonzi Wells and Mike James. It's funny, but wasn't that why Houston acquired those guys? And it didn't work out? And it's going to work out now because...? Seriously, this is one of those moves that looks better on paper than it will look in action. Wells and James are both proven 20-point scorers...during a contract year. I have no idea why Hornets owner George Shinn would want to mess with the team's chemistry. They have the best record in the West! If it ain't broke, why break it? More reactionary madness brought on by the Gasol trade, I guess.

San Antonio Spurs: Leave it to the Spurs to do the impossible once again: They actually got older by trading for Kurt Thomas. Still, Thomas is a strong defender and can hit the mid-range jumper with regularity. He's also a really good rebounder. And the best thing is, his contract expires at the end of the season. I think San Antonio will miss Brent Barry's shooting, though.

Seattle SuperSonics: They sure picked up a mismash of crap: Brent Barry, Francisco Elson, Ira Newble, Donyell Marshall, Adrian Griffin. I have no idea why the Sonics wanted any of these players, unless maybe Clay Bennett wants to create his own version of The Most Dangerous Game with a bunch of humans that nobody will ever miss. But hey, more useless players equals more shots and an inevitable Rookie of the Year award for Kevin Durant, right?

Toronto Raptors: They got Primoz Brezec. Fear the Dinos!

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The New York Knicks: It's bad - but sort of expected - when the Madison Square Garden crowd starts chanting for James Dolan to finally put Isiah Thomas out of the Knicks' misery. But it goes from "sad" to "tragically sad" when the "Fire Isiah" chant picks up steam on the road. And that's what happened last night in Philadelphia during during the Sixers' 40-point drubbing of Team Dysfunction. Did New York just roll over and die on defense? Well, Philly shoots 45 percent from the field and averages about 94 PPG on the year. Last night, they shot 57 percent and had 102 points by the end of the third quarter. This is how badly things went for the Knicks: Human victory cigar Gordan Giricek played the entire fourth quarter.

Isiah Thomas: The Baby-faced Assassin sunk to a new low, even for him, placing the blame for last night's stink bomb directly on the broad and pudgy shoulders of twin towers Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph. Said Isiah: "My guy's minds were elsewhere."

Dwight Howard: The slam-dunk Superman scored 37 points (13-for-16) and grabbed 15 rebounds. So why's he being included in Worst of the Night? Because Chris Bosh freaking ate his lunch. Bosh made 11 of his first 12 shots, including a three-pointer - only his third of the season - on his way to hitting 14 of 16 shots and scoring 40 points. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy even said that Bosh "destroyed" Howard. I'm not a professional athlete, but when your coach tells the press your man destroyed you, well, I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing.

The Orlando Magic defense: In all fairness to Dwight, he wasn't the only defenseless magician. The Raptors scored a season-high 127 points on 58 percent shooting. In addition to Bosh's 14-for-16 line, Jose Calderon was 8-for-10 and Carlos Delfino was 7-for-11. By the way, that 127 points was only two off of the Raptor's all-time franchise high for points in a game.

Andrea Bargnani: The Magic might have surrendered a gob of points on an impossibly high shooting percentage, but at least they shut down Bargnani (4 points, 1-for-8 shooting). That's gotta count for something, right?

Travis Diener: I can't blame Dick Diener's nephew for all of the Pacers' woes, but I can bust on him for shooting 1-for-7 last night. Guards are supposed to be able to shoot, right?

The Chicago Bulls: According to the scouting report, the Nets have owned the Bulls over the last few years because the Bullies have trouble defending big guards like Jason Kidd. So why did Marcus Williams - Kidd's six-foot three-inch replacement - light them up for a season-high 25 points? Well, because the Bulls suck, of course! Ben "I'm their best player" Gordan and Luol "Why oh why didn't I sign that $50 million extension" Deng were both back in the Chicago lineup, but it didn't make much of a difference as the Bulls shot 38 percent from the field and dropped a 110-102 overtime decision to the Kidd-less Nets.

Yahoo box scores: According to Yahoo, Jason Kidd started for the Dallas Mavericks and came off the bench for the New Jersey Nets. I knew Kidd was amazing, but I had no idea he was that amazing. (Thanks to all the astute readers who picked up on this and emailed me about it.)

Kidd box DAL
He's a Maverick...

Kidd box  NJ
...no, he's a Net. Wait, what?!

The Detroit Pistons: I certainly don't think it's time to hit the panic button or anything, but the Pistons followed up an embarrassing homecourt blowout at the hands of the Magic by getting beaten by a team that was, at the time, 15 games below .500. That's not a good sign when your goal is to compete for an NBA title. Detroit trailed by as many as 21 points in the third quarter and it took a flurry of three-pointers by Rasheed Wallace in the final two minutes of the fourth just to make a game of it.

The Dallas Mavericks: The team hasn't had good ball movement since Steve Nash left the team a few years ago, which is a big reason that Mark Cuban was willing to mortgage the team's future to rescue Jason Kidd from hell. Well, if last night's game against the Hornets was any indication, it's going to take more than a future Hall of Fame point guard to change the status quo. Dallas had only 13 assists and committed 17 turnovers, and, even worse, Chris Paul flayed Kidd and then ate him alive, going for 31 points, 11 assists, and a career-high 9 steals. Not coincidentally, Kidd had a game-high 6 turnovers.

The Phoenix Suns defense: Last night's game taught us a few things. First, Shaq can run and gun in the Suns offense (15 points, 6-for-9 shooting). He can still rebound (he had 9) and intimidate (2 blocked shots, lots of pushing and shoving, and he damn near killed Raja Bell with an inadvertent elbow). And he obviously didn't spend his early-season vacation practicing his touch from the line (3-for-8). We also learned that Shaq is tres motivated; the Big Road Runner was sprinting up and down the court and going after loose balls, including one crazy dive that took out referee David Guthrie. Now, Shaq had no chance of saving that ball, and he knew it. But he dove after it to show people 1. that he means business and 2. that he's still healthy enough to go all out in order to win. These are all very good signs for the Suns. Unfortunately, their team defense is still terrible. The Lakers scored 130 points on 57 percent shooting. Moreover, it seemed like they could get whatever shot they wanted, whenever they wanted, even when their second unit was on the floor. What kind of surprised me was that Phoenix didn't learn anything from their win in L.A. earlier this season. In that game, the Suns were the aggressors. They played physical defense and roughed the Lakers up at every opportunity. The Lakers, outside of Kobe, can still be rattled and intimidated by physical play. It happened both times they played the Celtics, and it happened in Atlanta a week or so ago. So my advice to the Suns, and anybody else playing against Team Supreme, is that you have to play mean.

Shaq: The big guy played really well, considering the facts that he hasn't played in a couple months and this was his first game in a new (and very different) offensive system. But...why, oh why did he shave his Fu-Manchu 'stache?! That's like Superman eating Kryptonite, or Pamela Anderson getting boob reduction surgery. Seeing The Big Cactus's naked upper lip sucked all the awesome out of me. I will be spending most of the rest of the day mourning the loss of that beautiful tuft of facial hair. (Hat tip to Ben Q. Rock from The Third Quarter Collapse for his sympathy and commiseration.)

Raja Bell: I know that he almost died after Shaq's elbow caved in his skull, but that happened late in the game. Bell still managed to play 36 minutes, but scored zero points on 0-for-3 shooting. Raja's scoring and - more importantly - outside shooting is a vital component of the Suns' offense, especially now that Shaq's in town.

Darko Milicic: In his continuing battle for the "Worst Draft Pick of All Time" crown, Darko scored 2 points (0-for-7) in 19 minutes). But since my therapist has suggested I try to be more positive, I'll go ahead and point out that Darko had 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and a winning smile. Still, it's pretty bad when you're in danger of losing your starting job to Jason Collins. Speaking of which...

Jason Collins: Due largely to Darko's offensive ineptitude, Collins played 24 minutes but totally failed to reward his team in any way whatsoever. The human telephone pole scored zero points (0-for-0) and had 1 lonely rebound. So Darko's starting job is safe. For now.

The Boston Celtics defense: Another shootout, another loss for the Green and White. It might be time for Doc Rivers to start coaching and remind his squad that they're a defensive team, not the second coming of the Phoenix Suns. One night after giving up 124 points to the Nuggets, the Celtics watched the Warriors drop in 119. Next stop: Phoenix. This could get ugly. Well, ugly-er.

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Yao Ming: Shaquie Chan shot just 3-for-17 against the imposing defense of...Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Which means a traffic cone probably could have held him to 2-for-17 shooting.

Tracy McGrady: Wasn't he supposed to be resting over the All-Star break? That 6-for-21 shooting line suggests that T-Mac must have spent the weekend at Camp CHEN-A-WANDA.

Larry Hughes: He's baaaaaack...by which I mean 33 percent shooting (5-for-15).

LeBron James: Bron Bron had a triple double (26 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists), but his 0-for-7 first half shooting put the Cavs in a pretty big hole. And they didn't recover.

The New York Knicks: Zach Randolph threw a cup of water at Nate Robinson. Nate then threw a towel at Zach. In other words, it was just another night at the office for Team Dysfunction. Rather than disciplining his players, coach Isiah Thomas praised their "feistiness" and "nastiness," which is kind of like praising your crazy ex-girlfriend's "passion" after she burns down your apartment building. Amazingly, the Knicks transformed their malaise into a 113-100 overtime win, proving that, at least once in a while, insanity works.

The Washington Wizards: You know that Knicks victory I was just talking about? It was gift-wrapped and delivered with a card signed "The Wizards." Too bad coach Eddie Jordan wasn't in a giving mood. "It's just unacceptable, our approach to the game. We just didn't play hard enough. We didn't play with a lot of purpose, and maybe we thought they were just going to give us the game, and it was just the opposite. There was just no enthusiasm." There also was no Caron Butler or Gilbert Arenas. That might have had a little something to do with it.

Eddy Curry: [Spoiler Alert!!] Remember how at the end of The Sixth Sense we finally found out that Bruce Willis had been a ghost the whole time? I think the same thing is going to happen with Eddy Curry at the end of this season. Curry started the game, but played only 15 minutes and scored 4 points (1-for-4). I guess he just wasn't feisty or nasty enough for his coach. Time to start throwing things, Eddy.

The Detroit Pistons: It was a rough night in the Motor City. Detroit's starters combined to shoot 19-for-49, and the Pistons got blown out at home by the Magic. Now, I ask you, is that any way to reward Bon Jovi for coming out to the game?

Dwight Howard: Superman must have left his cape in New Orleans. Howard scored ony 8 points 2-for-9) and committed 6 turnovers. He was a monster on defense, though.

The Philadelphia 76ers: Getting blown out by the Minnesota Timberwolves definitely qualifies for Worst of the Night status.

Antoine Walker: The former NBA champion - okay, I just threw up in my mouth a little - played 8 minutes and scored zero points on 0-for-3 shooting.

Gerald Green: Some Minnesota fans - most of whom will probably never have sex with a woman without the use of a major credict card - saluted Green's now famous cupcake dunk. Too bad Green never got off the bench. For all you stat geeks out there, that means he played 8 fewer minutes than Antoine Walker.

Tim Duncan: Timmah! must must have had something in his eye last night - like a water buffalo - because he couldn't have wished the ball into the basket (2-for-12). Fortunately for Tim and the Spurs, they were playing the Bobcats.

Gerald Wallace: Mr. Wallace showed everybody why he was left off the All-Star Team by scoring 4 points on 0-for-9 shooting. Those are Brad Lohaus numbers.

The Golden State Defense: The Jazz dropped 77 points on the Warriors during the first two quarters, and that total was a mere six points off of Utah's franchise record for a half. The Jazzercizers shot 68 in that first half - and 53 percent for the game - on their way to putting up 119 points. Said Baron Davis: "Our motto is keep the score tight and keep the game as close as possible and under double-digits going into the fourth quarter. We weren't able to do that tonight." Uh, yeah. I think it's time for a new team motto, Baron.

Jarron Collins: You can call him Mr. Two Trillion.

Kwame Brown: His stat line: 1 DNP-CD. And to think they only had to give up Pau Gasol to get him...what a bargain!

Kevin Durant: Hm. He came back from N'awlins with flu-like symptoms. Okay, suuuuuure.

The Boston defense: Their defense - which normally holds opponents to 90 PPG on 42 percent shooting - is the number one reason they have a league-best 41-10 record. But why live off your bread and butter when you can get into a shootout with a high-scoring team on the road? Oh, right, because that would be totally stupid. Still, that's exactly what the Celtics did, giving up 51 percent shooting to a team with Allen Iverson on it and losing 124-118. Said coach Doc Rivers: "We didn't want to get into an offensive shootout." Oh, right. And I guess the coach has nothing whatsoever to do with that.

Bennie Adams: Just what the NBA needs - another rogue official. Adams called Carmelo Anthony for goaltending when he jumped up to grab a three-point airball by Ray Allen. That ridiculous call cut the Denver lead to 121-118 with 13 seconds remaining. As you can probably imagine, Nuggets coach George Karl was a wee bit upset about the call. "Wow. He (Adams) likes making big calls and bad calls at the end of the game. How can you call goaltending when the ball is halfway below the rim?" Not that Karl had much room to talk. His team was gifted with a season-high 49 freethrow attempts, 21 more than the Celtics got.

Kevin Garnett: KG was juiced up after his nine-game vacation. "It was good to get back. It felt good. I felt like I was 27. I felt young." Of course, he didn't play as well as he claimed to have felt: 4 points (2-for-7), 8 rebounds, and 4 turnovers. When asked to appraise Garnett's performance, coach Doc Rivers said, "Not very good." But he felt young, Doc!

John Salmons: Even with Mike Bibby in Atlanta, Salmons remains the forgotten man in Sacramento: Zero points (0-for-3) in 18 minutes of "lacktion." [Hat tip to Tonewise]

Mike Bibby: He joined up with his new team to a resounding poop noise, scoring 5 points (1-for-5), grabbing zero rebounds, dishing 3 assists, and committing a couple turnovers in 16 minutes. Derek Fisher shut his ass down, man!

Update - Atlanta Hawks: Basketbawful reader Wild Yams made a good point in the comments section: "How can the Hawks as a team not be up for yesterday's worst? In the first half yesterday (some of which was officially not 'garbage time'), the Hawks went through a stretch from the six minute mark of the 1st quarter till just before the half where they were outscored 56-16 by the Lakers, culminating in a 41 point lead at one point. That's a 41 point lead in the first half! Before the Hawks hit three 3-pt shots in the last minute of the half, the lead was 69-28, and at the half the Hawks had at least 19 turnovers. If that isn't awful, I don't know what is." Mr. Yams, you are absolutely right.


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Charles Barkley learned an important lesson over All-Star Weekend: Stop making fun of the suit Karl Malone wore to the 1985 NBA Draft. Or else.

This little episode ranked somewhere between Dwight Howard's Superman Dunk and Reggie Miller's use of the word "titty" in my list of Favorite Moments from the 2008 All-Star Weekend. The lesson we can take from all this is: When Karl Malone demands an apology, you apologize, no questions asked. In fact, it's probably best to never say anything that would ever offend him.

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Dirk eats

Shooting stars? Guards shoot, big men dunk. That's the formula, right? Well, Saturday Night's Shooting Stars Competition gave us all a little lesson in New Math and - as Reggie Miller put it - set back shooting 100 years. Team Detroit (Chauncy Billups, WNBA Player X, Bill Laimbeer) were the defending champs, but they got ousted in the first round, and the finals pitted guard-heavy Team Chicago (Chris Duhon, WNBA Player Y, B.J. Armstrong) against center-laden Team San Antonio (Tim Duncan, WNBA Player Z, David Robinson). So naturally the team with two seven-footers won the thing, thanks to a top-of-the-key three from Duncan and a half court shot from The Admiral, who looks better in retirement than most guys look while playing. Seeing my man David made watching this travesty of shooting a little less painful.

They've got skills. Well, some of them: The Skills Challenge turned into a somewhat exciting battle of one-upsmanship between two emerging superstar point guards, with Deron Williams setting a new even record (25.5 seconds) to upset Chris Paul in the finals. However, Jason Kidd and Dwyane Wade just embarrassed themselves. Kidd's woeful lack of shooting touch was on display when he clunked all five three-point attempts and got tossed after round one with a time of 39.7 seconds. Wade, though...Wade had a full-on ego-ectomy. After electing not to even practice the course, the two-time defending Skills Competition champion lost his dribble out of bounds, botched four straight jumpers before just giving up and flinging the fifth at the hoop, and then missed two layups before ending the round with a score of 53.9 seconds...a time even Stephen Hawking could have beaten.

Steve Nash has no rhythm: Nash admitted before the Three-Point Shootout that the only reason he was taking part in the event was because the Collective Bargaining Agreement says he has to. (Said Nash: "They hold me to it every year.") So naturally he went out and performed like a man who didn't care and wanted it to all be over as quickly as possible, hitting only eight of 25 shots and scoring a lowly nine points. Maybe that'll teach David Stern not to force unwilling former MVPs to compete in meaningless contests they couldn't care less about.

The dunk contest requires dunks, right? Okay, let me open by saying that I have a serious case of the man love for Dwight Howard, and I freaked out when he pulled out the Superman cape for his first dunk. But...he didn't dunk that ball, he just sort of threw it in. Of course, everybody was so juiced about the cape - even David Stern was standing and yelling - that nobody seemed to notice that Howard failed to slam it home. I was also a little bummed that the Superman routine and Gerald Green's cupcake dunk got used up in the first round, because everything after that felt a little anticlimactic.

Gerald Green lost his invitation to planet Lovetron: I can't believe I forgot about this one. Thanks to flohtingpoint for the reminder: "While all of this was great stuff, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, came close to Gerald Green taking off his shoes, signing them for Darryl Dawkins, then having Chocolate Thunder bat them off the table when Gerald basically performed the same dunk twice in a row." You know, while I was watching that dunk, I thought: You know, doing a running dunk in socks would be pretty difficult. Unfortunately for Green, the dunk may indeed have been difficult, but it just looked stupid.

The Bibby Trade: So...Mike Bibby finally gets traded...to the Hawks?! Excuse me for totally not caring. I guess it improves the Hawks and all, but it's probably only the difference between not making the playoffs and first-round sweep. I was really hoping the Bibster would end up in Cleveland. And so was LeBron James.

The All-Star Game script remains unchanged: This is the way almost every All-Star Game seems to go: Ridiculously sloppy first quarter, followed by one team running up a big lead in the second quarter, followed by the other team staging a rally in the third quarter, followed by a fairly competitive fourth quarter (except for the occasional blowout). And this year's game followed that time-tested script to a T.

Three-point shooting: There were a lot of airballs last night despite the fact that no one was playing any defense until the fourth quarter.

Freethrow shooting: I understand that it's just the All-Star game and the level of focus and concentration maybe isn't as high as usual. But the FT shooting numbers were a Shaq-like 57 percent (8-for-14) for the West and a Chris Dudley-like 42 percent (6-for-14) for the East.

Yao Ming: Not only did the big man attempt a couple threes - the second of which was a step-back airball after the game had started to get serious - he was posterized at least two or three times by Howard. Maybe it's just me, but Yao always looks like he's moving in slow motion, especially when he's surrounded by All-Stars.

Kobe Bryant: He played only 2:52 in the first quarter and then sat out the remainder of the game to rest his pinkie finger. And yes, those are some of the lamest words ever strung together in the English language. My real disappointment, though, was the fact that he couldn't take part in the Three-Point Shootout, because then at least there would have been one score lower than Steve's.

Allen Iverson: The Answer scored only 7 points (3-for-7) and committed 6 turnovers. I wouldn't have even bothered to mention him, except that he apparently jumped everybody's case during halftime about taking the game seriously and playing to win. Come on, A.I., we're talking about All-Star Games!

Tim Duncan: Does this man ever smile? TD didn't crack one after the Shooting Stars Competition, and his face didn't so much as move during the ASG intros, despite the fact that his fellow starters were hamming it up for the camera. Okay, fine, Tim. We all get that you don't want to be there. But you don't have to act like your puppy just died, okay?

Dirk Nowitzki: It was a rough night for the reigning regular season MVP. He airballed a three, shot 5-for-14, got posterized by LeBron, and then got his junk stuffed by Dwyane Wade.

Chris Paul: I have nothing bad to say about this kid. He was huge (16 points, 14 assists) and probably would have won the MVP if his team could have pulled it out. Which would have rocked the house, since he was playing at home.

Rasheed Wallace: The one man who wanted to be at the All-Star Game less than Tim Duncan. He might have been dancing a little jig during the intros, but the expression on his face said, "I'm about to choke a bitch." 'Sheed then went out and hoisted out three or four left-handed threes, only, just like Inigo Montoya, he's not left-handed.

Chauncy Billups: I cringe every time somebody calls him Mr. Big Shot. Last night's line: 3-for-10 from the field, 0-for-6 from three. Can't we just call him Mr. Occasionally Hits A Tough Shot?

Jason Kidd: It was awkward to watch him in a New Jersey Nets uniform during the Skills Competition, and it was even more awkward to listen to trade updates throughout the All-Star game...including when David Aldridge tried to bug Dirk about it, and Dirk was afraid to even comment on it.

LeBron James: He had a great night put up some big-time numbers - 27 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists - but he didn't deserve the MVP award. Ray Allen did. And you could kind of see it in LeBron's face when he was accepting the trophy from David Stern. But he cut through the Western Conference All-Stars like a knife through butter and crammed one down into Nowitzki's face, which immediately became the signature play of the game. And that's what the fans were thinking about while casting their MVP votes, I'm sure.

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Kobe Bryant took a page out of Tracy McGrady's book and is using his injured pinky to avoid playing in the All Star Game. That sound you hear is Magic Johnson shaking his head in pity. After all, he played in the All Star Game while terminally ill.

Gregg Popovich is still salty and bitter over the Pau Gasol freebie. Popob*tch says there should be a trade committee that could squash blatantly lopsided trades. I wonder what this committee would have said about the Spurs trading Luis Scola for Sylar from Heroes. Minus the ability to cut open skulls with his mind.

Who would've guessed that referee Bob Delaney was a complete badass?

David Stern shot down Dwight Howard's proposal to raise the rim to 12-feet for this weekend's Slam Dunk Contest. Still no word on Big Head Mode or whether three consecutive buckets will cause a player to burst into flames.

Stephon Marbury will miss the rest of the season with season-ending ankle surgery. The Knicks are 15 and 37. I wouldn't say he'll be missing it, Bob.

Latrell Sprewell is flat broke. I guess he really did have a family to feed.

A commercial for WNBA Live 2008. It's as awesome as it sounds.

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Note: This image was brought to my attention by Basketbawful reader Wormboy2000. So I want to thank him and invite everybody else to send me their own man love pictures. I only ask that you limit your submissions to pictures of NBA players past or present whose otherwise completely heterosexual actions can be misconstrued as being totally gay. (i.e., I am not asking for homosexual porn.)

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payton jersey-001

The Gary Payton Rule (thu ger'-e pa'-tun rool) noun. The unofficial name for an NBA rule passed in 2005 which stipulates that players who are traded and then waived by their new team cannot sign back with the team that traded them for 30 days (20 days in the offseason).

Usage example: [From the LakersGround.net forums] "It's the Gary Payton rule, for when Gary Payton refused to report to Atlanta after being traded there from Boston."

Word history: ESPN's Marc Stein coined the term (I think) in a 2005 article titled Ten nuggets in the new CBA and further explained it in a recent Weekend Dime column: "[The Gary Payton Rule was instituted] after Payton was traded by Boston to Atlanta at the trade deadline in 2005, only to rejoin the Celtics three days later after the Hawks agreed to release him in a pre-arranged deal. Since the summer of 2005, players who are traded and then waived by their new team are forced to wait 30 days before re-signing (only 20 in the offseason) with the team that just traded them."

Word in the press: The Gary Payton Rule has gotten some play this week, thanks to the Jason Kidd-to-Dallas Mavericks non-trade. See, as part of the proposed deal, Jerry Stackhouse was going to be sent to New Jersey, waived, and then subsequently re-signed by the Mavs after the required 30-day waiting period. Of course, Stackhouse had to blow that idea all to hell by running off at the mouth. Stack told everybody who would listen that he was part of the deal only "to make the numbers work" and then said, "I feel great. I get 30 days to rest then I'll be right back. I ain't going nowhere."

Of course, the NBA doesn't allow that kind of prearranged agreement. So of course several "anonymous" (read that "vagina-like") league executives and GMs starting speaking out. Said one Eastern Conference exec: "It sounds like a side deal, doesn't it? The league will have a lot of explaining to do if Stackhouse goes back to Dallas." Said an unidentified GM: "I thought it was the most blatant statement someone could make about a trade. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the league disallowed Stackhouse to go back to Dallas." Yet another spineless GM said: "It's caused a lot of people to wonder how they could get away with that, how those kind of pre-existing arrangements can be allowed." I'm pretty sure these anonymous comments provided to David Stern noterized and in triplicate.

So there you have it. Even if somebody talks sense into Devean George, Stackhouse's rash words will kill the trade, because the Mavericks have said they won't pull a trigger on the deal if it costs them Stackhouse (and thus rob them of their team depth). Nice work there, Jerry. [Insert "Wah waaaaaaah" noice here.]


Word trivia: In that same Dime column mentioned above, Stein added another amusing historic tidbit: "The irony here, though, is that Dallas also got at a player back in Payton-like circumstances at the '05 deadline when Alan Henderson was sent to Milwaukee as part of a deal for Keith Van Horn before the Bucks set Henderson free so he could return to the Mavs. Not that anyone ever suggested that we refer to the new regulation as The Alan Henderson Rule."

Funtastic extra: While trying to create a fake Gary Payton Atlanta Hawks jersey for this post, I discovered that the Hawks are one of the only teams in the league that does not offer customized jerseys. Seriously. I mean, I already knew there wasn't a market for customized Hawks jerseys, but that's still pretty humiliation, and thus worth noting.

Footnote: I reviewed the entire NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement and couldn't find The Gary Payton Rule. Anybody else want to take a shot?

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Devean George: Well, nobody saw that one coming, huh? The Mavericks pull off a blockbuster trade for prodigal son Jason Kidd, only to have the deal blocked by one Devean Jamar George. George has a "virtual no-trade clause" that allowed him to reject the trade because he's on a one-year contract and would lose his "Early Bird" rights. That's a stipulation that would allow Dallas -- and only Dallas -- to go over the salary cap to sign him. Basically, it would maximize his money should Mark Cuban decide, after the season, that he wants to go balls out to sign George to another, more lucrative contract.

Yeah. That wasn't going to happen anyway, and it sure as hell isn't going to happen now. Captain Cockblock has played in only 27 of the Mavs' 52 games, partly due to injury, and partly due to the fact that he's not any good. He's averaging 3.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, and he's shooting 36.5 percent from the field. He has a PER of 8.9, which -- according to John Hollinger's reference guide -- falls somewhere between "definitely renting" and "on the next plane to Yakima."

Well, he may suck -- and he really, really does -- but HEEEEEE HAAAAAS THE POWEEEEERRRR!!! At least, the power to crush the hopes and dreams of Jason Kidd, the Mavericks, and everybody who was totally juiced to see how this trade was going affect the battle of powers in the Western Conference.

My gut tells me this isn't over. It can't be. To provide you with a point of reference for George's relative importance in this deal, he's making $2,369,111 this season. Kidd is making $19,728,000. In a trade this size, there has to be a way around $2 million. Doesn't there? And surely somebody is going to talk sense into George, because those "Early Bird" rights aren't going to do a damn thing for him when Dallas cuts him loose after the season.

As a sidebar to this story, Avery Johnson was forced -- due to an injury to Josh Howard -- to start George last night against the Trailblazers, and George responded to all the angry catcalls from the Dallas crowd by scoring zero points on 0-for-11 shooting in 33 minutes. Way to silence your critics, Devean.

Atlanta Hawks: Memo to the Hawks: Losing to the Charlotte Bobcats will not improve your chances of making the playoffs. And here's another reality check for the dirty birds: You have 21 wins, and the 'Cats have 19.

Othella Harrington: Did you know that Harrington was one of the greatest rebounders in the history of prep basketball? It's true. Harrington was a top 5 player his senior year, and was MVP of the Dapper Dan and McDonald's all-star game (where he had over 20 rebounds). But last night's four trillion is a sure sign that his glory days are far, far behind him.

Maurice Evans: If there's a wink link in the Magic's daisy chain, it's their backcourt. And that weakness was on display last night, as Evans scored 2 points on 1-for-8 shooting. You know, starting 2-guards are supposed to score. That's what they do. But Evans is averaging 7.6 PPG. And it's not like he's much of a playmaker, either (1.1. APG).

Damon Stoudamire: Quite a boost he's given the Spurs, eh? In 18 minutes against the Cavs, Mighty Mouse scored zero points (0-for-4) to go along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. You know he must be pretty bad if he can't unseat starting point guard...

Jacque Vaughn: Ah...2 points on 1-for-8 shooting. The Spurs really need Tony Parker back. Badly.

Ira Newble: It's not his fault. He was forced into the starter's role for the Cavs due mainly to a variety of injuries to guys like Boobie Gibson and Sasha Pavlowhatever. But I bet his zero-point, 1 assist performance against San Antonio made Lebron want to strangle him.

Lawrence Frank: Before he could find out about Devean George's historic cock block, Frank said of the Kidd trade, "The bottom line is that it was time for both parties to move on." Stat curse! How's Frank gonna spin that one if Kidd ends up back in New Jersey?

Vince Carter: The 79 Million Dollar Man's season of sleepwalking continued, as he notched a soporific 15 points on 5-for-15 shooting. But the best part was his postgame comment: "You would think that we were already on vacation in the first half." That's some straight up Vinsanity. But not the good kind.

Darrick Martin: It's nice the kid got some PT in a blowout, but it's not so nice that he scored a three trillion.

The Memphis frontcourt: Okay, Hakim Warrick and Rudy Gay were pretty good (23 points a piece). But Darko Milicic (zero points, 0-for-4), Kwame Brown (1 point, 0-for-3), and Brian Cardinal (zero points, 0-for-2)? Not so much.

New York Knicks: The Celtics were already without Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, and then they lost Brian Scalabrine (pulled groin) and Big Baby Davis (twisted knee). That left Boston with, what, five or six healthy players? Fortunately for the Green and White, the Knicks suck.

Marquis Daniels: Indiana's new starting point guard scored 3 points (1-for-9) and had 1 lonely assist in 32 minutes of whatever the opposite of "action" is.

The Pacers' shooting: Daniels wasn't the only Pacer whose gun was jammed. The team shot 31 percent for the game, and almost everybody was guilty: Danny Granger (3-for-9), Jeff Foster (0-for-1), Mike Dunleavy Jr. (3-for-9), Troy Murphy (3-for-9), Andre Owens (3-for-9), Kareem Rush (3-for-7), and Shawne Williams (1-for-10). It's like they were shooting on one of those outdoor hoops where the rim is bent sideways and pointing upward.

Luke Walton: Our boy Luke is the odd man out in the Lakers resurgence. Last night he scored 1 point (0-for-3) in a game in which his team scored 117. And I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that's terrrrrrrrible!

John Salmons: You know, it wasn't very long ago that he was scoring 18 a game, but it sure seems like a long time ago. Last night's line: zero point (0-for-4) and zero everything else in 20 minutes.

Bonzi Wells: His role on the Rockets is defined as "scorer." Last night, he played the role of "loser" with zero points on 0-for-4 shooting.

Suns and Warriors defense: Last night, neither team played any. The Suns scored 118 points on 52 percent shooting and lost. That's because the Golden Staters hit for 120 on 54 percent shooting. Well, that and...

Steve Nash: He had 20 points and 12 assists, but he also had a case of the butter fingers (7 turnovers). Turns out that whole "taking care of the ball" thing is pretty important.

Jarron Collins and C.J. Miles: Utah's 11th and 12th men had identical numbers last night: 49 seconds and zero-for-everything. Did they decided to have a suck-off and not tell anybody?

Quinton Ross: The Clippers' guard-forward out of Southern Methodist falls into our newest category of "Guys Who Play Less Than A Minute." He got 30 seconds of PT against the Wizards and, of course, did nothing.

More, more, more!! You know you want more of me...so go get some! I promise plenty of Superbad references...

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