The Toronto Craptors: The Mighty (Awful) Dinos probably penciled in a "W" on their schedule when they realized the Milwaukee M.A.S.H. unit was limping into town. Which had to be hard, what with those three little finger-claw things. But anyway: Psyche! Andrew Bogut returned! So, naturally, even though Toronto could have made up some ground in the epic tickle-fight for the last playoff spot in the East, they failed. At home. After scoring 30 points in the first quarter, the Craptors managed only 55 points the rest of the way to lose by double-figures and slip uncomfortably into that next-to-last in the conference slot.
Bonus stats: Toronto scored only 12 points on 5-for-20 shooting in the third quarter. Even the Associated Press called that "dreadful." And as if to add stinging insult to bitter injury, Jose Calderon missed his first free throw of the season -- after hitting 84 straight -- with 3:32 left in the fourth.
Kendrick Perkins: Beast got the bronze boot during the fourth quarter of the Celtics-Pistons game for fouling Jason Maxiell. To the floor. By the neck.
Said Perkins: "I didn't want to give up a layup, so I was trying to foul him hard across the arms, but he ducked his head and I got him on the neck. I wasn't trying to hurt him. I don't do that." Do I believe Kendrick wasn't trying to hurt Maxiell? Yes. Do I buy that whole "he ducked his head" thing? Sure. And I also rode into work on my purple unicorn, Sabra. Wave your horn at our readers, Sabra!
Now, I'm a fan of physical play and hard fouls, but Perk stuck his big toe over a line. To that point, Maxiell had been very active, especially on the offensive glass, so Perkins' takedown struck me as a frustration foul. (Speaking as a pickup players, you always want to hit the hustle guy. Always.) But not only was it dangerous to Maxiell physically, it was perilous to Boston as a team. At the time of the foul/ejection, they were up by only 5 points on the road and there were still almost six minutes left in the fourth. That kind of play runs the risk of inciting the home team to a big win. Fortunately for the Celtics, it didn't. Thanks to...
The Detroit Pistons: The Celtics played a good game, but they hardly went all out. It was a simple matter of focus and execution, which is how superior teams typically beat the inferior ones. And Detroit is now, without question, an inferior team (regardless of Doc Rivers belief that "They’ll be as dangerous as anybody in the playoffs.") Simply put, the Pistons aren't a member of the Eastern Conference Elite any more. They just aren't. And, with all due respect to Mark Jackson, time (to further integrate Allen Iverson into the mix) isn't going to change that. As a side note, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Tayshaun Prince were a combined 7-for-31 from the field.
The Miami Heat: They fell victim to Mike Dunleavy Jr.'s season-high 30 points (10-for-18 from the floor, 4-for-8 from downtown). Let that soak in for a few seconds. But understand, if you're a Miami fan, that no amount of soaking will make that pain go away. Oh, and one more thing: The Pacers were 15-for-31 from three-point range. So, you know, memo to the Miami players: Hand + Face.
Udonis Haslem: He earned two techs and an ejection...with 3:03 left in the first quarter? Seriously, Udonis? That's a little early to start getting all uppity with the refs. I would have waited until the third quarter myself. And I probably would have tried to add some humor to the situation by tripping the official with a banana peel or hitting him with a cream pie. Laughter is the best medicine, after all.
Mario Chalmers: He fouled out in 13 minutes of PT against the Pacers. I said "hand in the face," Mario, not "hand on the arm, wrist, hand, etc."
The Indiana Pacers: The Heat, missing Shawn Marion (groin!) and Haslem, were forced to give Mark Blount 23 minutes of daylight. And Blount finished with 17 points (7-for-12) and 8 rebounds. And yes, those were both season-highs. If Indiana wants to make the postseason, they should move "shutting down seven-foot stiffs like Mark Blount" to the top of their to-do list.
The Washington Wizards Generals: Being the worst team in a league that includes the Clippers, Kings and Thunder has to hurt. Like a random bodily orifice filled with rusty nails. The Generals fell behind early at Philadelphia and trailed 32-17 after one quarter. They actually managed to rally and take brief lead in the third, but giving up a season-high 20 points to Willie Green worked against their cause. Said Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott "You have nothing left in the tank because you have to struggle back from so many points down. If we take the first quarter out, we win by five." Ah, if only teams could just erase all of their bad quarters, wouldn't the world be like one big Smurf Village? La la la la la la, la la la la la!
The Los Angeles Clippers: Oh. Hey. Look. They lost to the Cavs in Cleveland. Shock. Surprise. Right now, I'm slapping the side of my face the way the French knight did in The Holy Grail when King Arthur and his men were building that giant wooden rabbit in the woods outside the Frenchie's castle. Okay, enough with the geeky sarcasm. Here's what Clippers coach/jailer Mike Dunleavy Sr. had to say about the loss: "We were a little unfortunate to catch them on a night they got Ilgauskas back. He certainly paid the rent tonight. His ability to make shots from the outside stretches your big guys out. He's got really good range and gives them something they’ve been missing." Riiiiight. It was all Ilgauskas coming back. Memo to everyone: If Dunleavy offers you a great real estate deal on swamp land, say NO.
The New Jersey Nets: The Atlanta Hawks have been having a rough month. Going into last night's game, they were only 5-9 in January. During that stretch, Joe Johnson had been averaging 16.8 points on 35 percent shooting. But, not surprisingly, the Nets were the cure for whatever's been ailing the Dirty Birds. Joe Johnson hit 11 of 17 shots for his 29 points while Devin Harris and Vince Carter were teaming up to shoot 11-for-31 from the field. New Jersey is now 9-19 since Devin Harris said "We knew we were going to be a playoff team." And the Nets are currently 11th in the East, by the way. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
The Los Angeles Lakers: I'm not supposed to be impressed that they gave up 119 points to the Timberwolves, right?
Al Jefferson, unintentionally dirty quote machine: Regarding the Lakers: "They're bigger than they look. Long and big."
The Oklahoma City Thunder: They shot pretty well (47 percent) but got smacked around like a bop bag by the much more physical Jazz. The 25 turnovers (which Utah turned into 25 bonus points) didn't help either. Fun fact: The Thunder are 2-22 against teams with winning records. (Of course, one of those wins was against the Jazz on January 14th...)
The Charlotte Bobcats: Since that rousing double-overtime victory over the Lakers in L.A., the 'Cats have dropped games in Portland (by 14) and Denver (by 11). I'm not saying the Lakers game was a fluke...actually, you know what? That's exactly what I'm saying. I'd blame the turnovers (18 for 23 points going the other way), but the Nuggets bumbled the ball away 17 times themselves, giving 19 of those points right back. No, it was probably the defense: Denver shot almost 55 percent. Said Bobcats coach/captain obvious Larry Brown: "We weren't as good as them." Hey! That scores a perfect 10 on the Dull-Negrometer!
The New Orleans Hornets: David West was back! Sadly, it didn't matter: The Hornets still lost at home to the not-very-good-at-all Warriors. Despite New Orleans' determination to slow the game down to an achingly boring crawl, the Nellie Ballers pushed the tempo whenever they could and finished with 14 fast break points (plus some fouls). But the transition game wasn't the only place where the Hornets D was lacking. With Peja Standstillovic guarding Corey "Bad Porn" Maggette down the stretch, Don Nelson continued to call Magpie's number. Maggette responded by scoring 12 of his 19 points in the last 6 minutes. Said Nellie: "We didn't think [Stojakovic] could guard him and he couldn't, of course." Damn, Peja, you just got FACED. Bonus Damning stats: New Orleans shot 36 percent, committed 14 turnovers and missed 7 free throws.
Corey Maggette, delusions of above-averageness machine: "I think it's a mismatch every time, me personally. Whoever guards me I just think it's a mismatch because I'm just a person that tries to keep a person on their heels and attack them every which way. Everyone knows I'm trying to go to the basket." True. But everyone also knows you're an inefficient volume shooter who can't be trusted to hustle or play defense. Oh, and you're injury prone, too.
The Sacramento Kings: You can get some GREAT coverage of this game over at By The Horns (nudge, nudge, hint, hint). But here's what you need to know for WotW purposes: The Bulls, who have struggled against pretty much everybody and hadn't won in Sacramento since 1997, earned their most lopsided victory of the season, a 109-88 shellacking of the increasingly hapless Kings.
The Sactowners are the worst defensive team in the league -- oh, you betcha -- and the Bulls used the game as an opportunity to pad their stats. Chicago shot nearly 56 percent as a team...significantly better than their season average of 44 percent. Ben Gordon and Luol Deng both rang up 20 points. Joakim Noah had 17 (on 8-for-11 from the field), which was only a couple points off his career high. Tyrus Thomas had his second consecutive double-double (14 points, 10 boards) to go along with 3 steals and 2 blocks. Derrick Rose had a game-high 11 assists. And Cedric Simmons even had 5 points in garbage time, marking his third-best offensive output of the season!
Said Spencer Hawes: "I would say it was a terrible effort across the board. We came out and let them do what they wanted to do. I don't think there is any good we can take out of this game." Added Kings coach Kenny Natt: "We're going to have to do whatever we have to do to make this change because it's not fair to anyone -- as a team, as an organization, for the fans -- the whole bit. We all deserve a lot better so from that standpoint I was very disappointed in our effort." Awh. Sad face.
The Los Angeles Clippers: There's a new worst team in the league, everybody, and their name is the Clippers. The Other L.A. Team secured their spot at the bottom of the NBA chum bucket by succumbing to the Wizards Generals in Washington. They're now tied with the Generals in the standings (at a very sad 10-37), but Washington is up 1-0 in the season series. So, congratulations, Clippers! You still are who we thought you were! Quick stat: The Clips committed a season-high 25 turnovers...including 10 in the first quarter.
The Iniana Pacers: There's more than corn in Indiana, but there's no "D" for the Pacers, who gave up 122 points at home to the Knicks in the dreaded double-revenge game. Former Pacers player Al Harrington (30 points, 8 boards) gave former Pacers GM Donnie Walsh the greatest gift of all: A win. Okay, that's like the second-greatest gift of all. Anyway, Al said: "I wanted to win the game for him, just to put a smile on his face. Being around Donnie lets me feel super comfortable, feel like I can do anything." Donnie truly is the wind beneath Al's wings. [Insert Bette Midler music here.]
By the way, the Pacers attempted 100 shots and both teams grabbed at least 50 rebounds. So, yeah, real defensive Waterloo.
The Philadelphia 76ers: Okay, see, meltdowns like this are why I created Basketbawful. The Sixers, playing at home, were 12 up on the Nets two minutes into the fourth quarter when Vince Carter sprained his ankle and left for good. And from that point, Philly coasted in for an easy victory. But not really. What actually happened was that they went the final 10:37 without a basket (0-for-18) and finished the fourth quarter with only 8 points on 2-for-22 shooting. Brook Lopez (24 points, 17 rebounds) finished the Sixers off via a monster jam with 16.8 seconds left. As Sixers coach Tony DiLeo observed: "We went through a dry spell. We just could not score." Another perfect 10 on the Dull-Negrometer!
The Miami Heat: A lost weekend that started with a double-digit road loss to the Pacers ended with a double-digit home loss to the Dallas Mavericks. And somebody needs to put up a Missing Poster for Miami's defense. The Heat have the fifth-best field goal defense in the NBA (44.6 percent), but the Mavericks blasted them like they were bullseyeing womp rats in their T-16 back home. Dallas hit a season-high 60 percent of their field goals, and the Mavs' 111 points were the most the Heat have surrendered at home this season. Bonus history lesson: It was the Mavericks' ninth straight regular season win over the Heat, who haven't beaten Dallas since a 119-118 overtime victory on March 26, 2004. (Unless you count that whole "2006 NBA Finals thing...)
The Memphis Grizzlies: The Toothless Bears discovered that shooting 51 percent isn't quite good enough when you commit 22 turnovers and let your opponent hit almost 54 percent of their shots. The result, beyond the 115-98 home loss to the Lakers, was the Grizzlies' 12th consecutive not-win. It's their longest losing streak since they opened the 2002-03 season 0-13.
Kobe Bryant: [Insert ominous music here]. Mamba tumbled to the ground after a drive to the hoop. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Kobe had to go through Andrew Bynum's knee before his butt could reach the floor.
Obviously, it was a freaky accident, so no true blame can fall on Kobe's scaly shoulders. Still, it's an interesting karmic twist, considering that Bynum collapsed Gerald Wallace's lung on an accidental play just a few days prior. I'm just sayin'. But my distaste for the Lakers aside, let's hope Bynum is going to be okay.
The Atlanta Hawks: Hey, look, another road loss for the Hawks, this time to the Michael Redd-less Bucks. The Dirty Birds had their feathers plucked by Charlie Villanueva's 27 points, 7 boards and season-high 6 assists. Atlanta is now 9-15 on the road and only 7-10 since that eight-game home stand that had everybody frothing at the mouth about how wicked-awesome they are. Make that "were." So, uh, where's that anonymous commenter who blasted me when I predicted this was going to happen? Would you like to retract your dissenting opinion now? Because I would be more than happy to graciously accept. I'm big that way. Speaking of size...
Mike Woodson, unintentionally dirty quote machine: Regarding the play of Bucks center Andrew Bogut: "He was huge. Zaza had his hands full."
The New Orleans Hornets: The Buzzing Bugs stood to close some of the gap in their divisional battle with the Spurs, and Chris Paul seemingly did his best to get 'er done by scoring a season-high 38 points on 15-for-22 shooting. But, of course, CP3 played right into Gregg Popovich's strangling hands, finishing with only 4 assists and 4 turnovers. Paul, like most great point guards, is at his most dangerous when he's creating for his teammates. Anybody remember that classic playoff game between the Suns and Mavericks when Steve Nash went off for 48 points and Phoenix lost by 10? Nash shot 20-for-28 as Dallas basically conceded his scoring opportunities but dished out a mere 5 assists. The strategy worked for the Mavericks then and it worked for the Spurs this weekend. Memo to the Hornets: When you play San Antonio's game, be prepared to lose.
Meanwhile those damn Spurs are trying to make me look the fool. They've won three straight and seven of their last eight since(ish) I dubbed them a non-contender. So, you're welcome, San Antonio fans, for the reverse stat curse.
Hilton Armstrong: Posterized. By Manu Ginobili. Way to play six feet tall, Hilton.
The Phoenix Suns: You can read more about this most improbably loss at By The Horns, but seriously...what a mess. They're called motions, people, and the Suns are going through them. And I'm officially dubbing Shaq "The Big David Copperfield" seeing as how he's making his teammates disappear. Amare Stoudemire played a game-high 43 minutes and finished with the same number of rebounds (6) as Derrick Rose and two fewer than Thabo Sefolosha (8). Steve Nash had almost as many turnovers (7) as the entire Bulls roster (8). Speaking of rosters, everybody on the Suns look like they just found out they have six weeks to live. Robert Sarver needs to fire Steve Kerr and Terry Porter immediately. I'm being completely serious. Do it quickly before the window slams shut on these guys...assuming it hasn't already.
The Utah Jazz: Their defense must have traveled to the same alternate reality as the Heats' and Pacers'. Portland shot 56 percent from the field (43-for-77) and 50 percent from beyond the arc (10-for-20) on their way to scoring 122 points. Jerry Sloan called it a "nightmare" and Deron Williams was similarly disgusted. "Bottom line, we've got to stop being so soft as a team. Teams push us around, and we don't push back. We're lying down and letting them walk all over us." Yeah, I'd say that's an unhappy player. But hey, it's not all bad: Carlos Boozer has joined the Overstock.com team!
Eddy Curry: You'd think the news that his ex-girlfriend and infant daughter were brutally murdered -- which came after his banishment by Mike D'Antoni and a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former male employee -- would be hitting rock bottom for E-House, but you'd be wrong. Turns out Eddy has mismanaged his finances so badly that he had to ask the Knicks for an $8 million advance. Which they refused to give. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Curry has already made close to $40 million in salary through 2007-08. So I guess Patrick Ewing was right: Basketball players might make a lot of money, but they also spend a lot of money.
The Detroit Pistons: You know how way up there I mentioned that the Pistons aren't a member of the Eastern Conference Elite any more? It's still true. I mean, losing to the Craboliers isn't all that damning on paper, unless of course that paper reveals that Cleveland's game-deciding 15-2 run happened when LeBron was sucking Gatorade on the sideline. And the fact that they dropped a banner for Kid Rock this weekend makes me want to drink until I can't feel feelings anymore. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go do a shot or 10 of Maker's Mark...
The Toronto Craptors: The Dinos edged further toward extinction by losing their second straight home game this weekend in a terrible 113-90 loss to the Magic. Chris Bosh, who normally chews the Magic up with his razor-sharp Raptor teeth was instead gobbled up by Orlando's defensive tar pit: Bosh shot 4-for-11 and committed a game-high 4 turnovers. It's a sad day for a team when Joey Graham (14 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals and a block) looks two or three times better than their franchise player.
The Boston Celtics' interior defense: Kevin Garnett missed the game with a case of what I'm calling "Formerteam-itis." Seriously, isn't it amazing how often NBA players are sick or injured when it comes time to face off against their old teams? Don't get me wrong, Doc Rivers said "He's sick. He's really bad. His fever's really high." and I believe him. But still. Anyway, without KG manning the paint, Al Jefferson blew up like can of soda somebody shook too hard before opening: 34 points on 15-for-21 shooting. Big Al also had 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Let's face it, without Garnett, the Celtics are soft and gooey in the middle.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: Boy, just when everybody was starting to talk about the Thunder, they drop an overtime decision to the only teams in the league that seems genuinely worse than they are. Still, it was a thrilling class of two teams determined to not play any defense whatsoever. But the Thunder failed at D just a little bit harder than the Kings, and thus earned a well-deserved defeat. It was a fitting end to Sacramento's eight-game slide into darkness.