I guess Vince had a New Year's Eve party he needed to get to.
This is how much I love you people: I'm defying a wicked hangover to bring you the Worst of the Night. Never doubt my devotion.
The Chicago Bulls: I always say that teams who have to play on the road on a major holiday are usually at a serious disadvantage. That was not the case in Chicago last night, where the Bulls pulled a Rex Grossman against the Magic. Ben Gordon scored 18 points on 17 shots. Derrick Rose had zero assists and shot 5-for-13. Aaron Gray went scoreless (0-for-2) and committed 5 fouls in 15 minutes (and Dwight Howard pushed him around like he was a sack of used cotton balls). Thabo Sefolosha was 3-for-10. The Bulls shot 42 percent and were down 65-38 at halftime...and the game was pretty much over. They've now lost four of five games and are watching .500 slip further from their grasp. Said Ben Gordon: "I think we can play a lot better than we're playing right now." I certainly hope so. Because when Joakim Noah (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Larry Hughes (15 points, 6-for-12) are your top performers, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
The New Jersey Nets: The Nets were held to a season-worst 75 points (on 37 percent shooting) by a Pistons team that was missing Rip Hamilton (groin) and Antonio McDyess (ribs), and lost Rasheed Wallace to a foot injury in the first half. Normally you're in pretty good shape when the team you're playing against is missing half its starters. And the Nets might have been if not for...
Vince Carter: Carter went "Vinsane" on referee Derrick Stafford when the call on a second-quareter out-of-bounds play didn't go his way. As a result, he got two quick techs and had to be restrained by teammates and his coach. And if you hear them tell the tale, Vince was the victim. Said Nets coach Lawrence Frank: "Vince thought the ball went off Allen (Iverson) and said something, and that's when he got a technical. That's when the official said something that Vince didn't think was appropriate and he reacted. We felt it was unjust that he got ejected." (Translation: It was the ref's fault.) Added Devin Harris: "The ejection was too quick. Something inappropriate was said, allegedly, but I didn't hear it." (Translation: Aliens are coming. Beware.)
Carter blew off the media after the game, and crew chief Dan Crawford refused a request for a comment from Stafford about what he might have said to Vince. So you can probably file this one under "How Many Licks Does It Take To Get To The Tootsie Roll Center Of A Tootsie Pop?" The world may never know.
The Toronto Raptors: The Craptors dropped their fourth straight home game, marking the first time they've blown that many in a row in Canada since 2006. They're a Nets-like 5-9 at home, they've lost 13 of 17 overall, and at 12-20 they're 12th in the Leastern Conference. And Chris Bosh is pretty bummed about it. "I wish we could wipe the slate clean to be honest with you. I wish we could start over. We definitely have a challenge ahead of us." In other Craptors news, Jose Calderon is an amazing 72-for-72 from the line this season. Yep. I said it. Let the stat curse begin.
George Karl, bad beer machine: After his team won their last game of 2008 to improve their record to 21-12, coach Karl said: "I'm not a champagne guy. I'm a beer guy and some red wine, but I think it's Coors Light tonight. Beer after a win tastes like champagne." I'm sorry. But Coors Light never, under any combination of circumstances, tastes like anything but toilet water strained through dirty gym socks. Not exactly the drink I'd choose to celebrate my 900th career coaching victory.
Let me share a little story with you. A few years back, me and my buddy Statbuster roadtripped to my alma mater for a weekend of rampant drinking. We met up with one of my college buddies, Hew, who was still living in town. At one point, very late in the night, it was Hew's turn to buy a round, and he sprung for a pitcher of Coors Light. Statbuster and I were about five or six sheets to the wind by then, and we STILL wouldn't touch the stuff. Hew, who was working as a student teacher and therefore didn't have a lot of excess spending cash, defended himself by informing us that the pitcher cost him only $2. That was the epiphany-like moment when Statbuster and I realized that once you've graduated from college and can afford decent beer, you lose the ability to enjoy (read that: tolerate) crappy beer, barring special circumstances. (If, for instance, you know somebody tending bar and they can get you as many Pabst Blue Ribbons as you want for free. Most scientists agree that free beer always tastes like Gwen Stefani squeezed it out of her breasts. Look it up.)
The Yao Watch: Basketbawful reader eljpeman left the following comment: "I was reviewing the box scores in Y! Sports, and you can add Luke Ridnour to the list of people that can block Yao. I just hope I don't stat curse the Yao watch!" I hope not either, eljpeman. And for the record, the Bucks had exactly two blocked shots last night...and both of them were against Yao. Wah-wah-waaaaaaah.
The Houston Rockets: Yes, they won. Technically speaking. But it was a hideous abomination of a game that left Rockets players disgusted with themselves and each other. Said Ron Artest: "We've got to play better and that's it. There's so much of the game where we have to play better. To sum it up, that win was not even a win." Added Yao Ming: "I really am not excited about the win. This keeps happening and happening since the Utah game, so I cannot be happy about this." Somebody get Yao some Coors Light and fast.
The Milwaukee Bucks: You know that game the Rockets were disgusted about winning? Well, the Bucks lost it. I'm just sayin'.
The Golden State Warriors: The Thunder were going to get their fourth win of the season eventually, and "eventually" became "last night" thanks to the defenseless non-effort of the Warriors. Oddly, the Warriors have played more road games (21) than any other team in the league this season. And they've lost 17 of 'em. What's worse is that three of their next four games are away from home too. By the end of that stretch, they will have played 24 games on the road and only 14 at home. So, you know, I guess the NBA schedule maker hates the Warriors. Regarding their latest roadkilling, coach Don Nelson said: "I am not crying about the schedule and I don't talk that much about it. There are probably reasons why players don't have the pop some nights and have it other nights. Bottom line is, we had too many guys that didn't have the pop tonight." Which must explain why they committed 20 turnovers and let the Thunder score 14 points over their season average.
The Los Angeles Clippers: They are who we thought they were. I know some of you might be tired of hearing that, but I'm going to keep writing it as long as they keep being who we thought they were. So don't kill the messenger, okay? They lost a revenge game against the team that stole Elton Brand from them, and Brand wasn't even playing. And they lost it at home. The crowd started chanting "Fire Dunleavy!" in the final minute, and Clippers owner Donald Sterling said afterward: "Not one of my better nights. I don't take losing well." Uh, really, Donald? Really?? As Basketbawful reader Mladen pointed out in an email: "Wow, I'm surprised he's still alive then." Wow is right.
The Clips shot 40 percent and committed 18 turnovers that were converted into 25 points by the Sixers. Mike "He won't be the Clippers coach in 2009-10" Dunleavy said: "We just didn't do a good job of seeing the ball and gave up easy baskets. There's a lot of good play out there for us, but there were a lot of mental errors." Regarding a technical foul he picked up in the first half -- his third in the last three games -- Dunleavy said: "I'm trying to protect my players. I see something I don't think is right. When I get them (technicals), I'm right." And therein lies one of Dunleavy's biggest problems: He always, in all circumstances, believes he's right and everybody who disagrees with him is wrong.
Lacktion report: Here's Chris with the last lacktion report of '08:
Nets-Pistons: New Jersey's Trenton Hassell just avoided an epic 13 trillion via a rebound and a foul, while a pair of truly spectacular Mario Brothers developed for Detroit. Walter Hermann spent 15 seconds on the floor, while in possibly the shortest on-court appearance known to date, Alex Acker had a Super Mario of a mere TWO SECONDS.
Bucks-Rockets: Luc Mbah a Moute may hve a cool name, but two steals and a block are all that have kept him from the wrong side of the stat sheet, as his 18:34 of playing time were punctuated by 2 bricks, a turnover, and four fouls for what was a potential +7. However, his Milwaukee teammate Francisco Elson racked up a +1 (giveaway) in 4:51, and Dan Gadzuric avoided another appearance here via two rebounds to negate a potential +1 in 7:21.