The Memphis Grizzlies: A 21-point road loss at the claws of the Raptors wasn't all that surprising, I guess, but their "effort" on defense was notable in that they surrendered 55.6 percent shooting...which represents the dinos' season-high for field goal accuracy. And mind you, the Raptors were still without Jose Calderon and Jermaine O'Neal. [Mentally prepares self for series of "Are they better without...?" articles/blog posts about the Raptors minus Ocho and The Drain.]

Andrea Bargnani: Uh oh. Bargs is beginning to fall way behind in the race for Worst First Overall Draft Pick of All Time. He had 21 points (8-for-14) and 8 rebounds against Memphis, and he's averaging 21.7 points as a starter in the six games The Drain has missed. In fact, Bargnani's knocked down 19 three-pointers during his six-game romp (including 3-for-4 against the Griz). Be warned, Andrea. You're close to losing "automatic punch line" status here at Basketbawful.

The Atlanta Hawks: Going into last week's home-and-home series with the Orlando Magic, Atlanta's Josh Smith said: "There's no doubt these two games are huge for us, for both teams really. We have to go into them with a playoff mentality, because this week can either put us back two losses on the division leader or we can win and keep moving on up that ladder to catch them and everybody else down the road." Hawks coach Mike Woodson agreed with that assessment: "There's no doubt that when you see a team on a back-to-back you have to treat it like a playoff set." If that really was the case, then the Hawks playoff aspirations are looking about as good as the very first (and creepiest) McDonald's commercial.

On Wednesday, the Magic built a 21-point lead and held on for a 4-point win in Atlanta. Then, on Friday, they tore the dirty birds' wings off. Here's an email I received from Basketbawful reader Justin T. early on in the game: "It's Orlando up 52-18 right now. That's right. In fact, it's JJ Reddick 12, Hawks 18. In the second quarter. What a monstrous turd." (No, no, no. THIS is a monstrous turd.)

And after that, things...didn't get better for the Hawks. In fact, there was so much fail in the game that it's hard to summarize it all. But I'll try anyway. The Magic scored a season-high 41 points in the first quarter and tied their season high for a half (71) and a game (121). Meanwhile, the Hawks were held to 25 percent shooting in the first half (10-of-40), after which they were down by 38 points.

Orlando's starters combined to shoot 24-for-39 from the field (including 10-for-13 from distance) while Atlanta's starting five went 15-for-48. Only Joe Johnson pecked and scratched his way to double-digits...with 11. To provide some perspective, J.J. Redick came off the bench and scored a season-high 15 points. Yes, Redick outscored every single member of the Hawks' starting lineup. Need I say more? Yeah, didn't think so. So I'll let coach Woodson close out this entry: "I'm not real happy. We just didn't compete tonight and it started with the five guys that started the game. That's unacceptable. We've got to go back and address that. I want these guys to understand that's unacceptable." I guess we'll find out on Sunday whether they got Mike's message. (Spoiler Alert: They didn't.)

The Los Angeles Clippers: What does their 27-point loss to the Hornets -- in which Rasual Butler scored a season-high 27 points -- tell us? Only that they are who we thought they were.

Mike Dunleavy, excuse machine: Back-to-back losses by a combined 49 points -- even when a team is without Baron Davis (bruised tailbone), Chris Kaman (foot) and Zach Randolph (left knee) -- is bad. But Dunleavy is always there with a precise excuse justification for his team's lifeless, defenseless performance: "We had good effort but we played last night and the back-to-back games get tough on you. We're playing only seven or eight guys." And when those seven or eight guys are coached by Mike Dunleavy, well, don't expect a miracle.

The Houston Rockets: They managed to avoid the dreaded post-Celtics hangover. Barely. I mean, a 2-point win over the Thunder? Blech. Said Yao Ming: "We just beat the Celtics. You don't want to lose here. That was in my head." You know what else was in his head? Teenage Catgirls In Heat.

The Klahma City Thunder: Well, yeah. They failed to capitalize on the Rockets' lethargic play and fell to a truly dreadful 5-32 in the process. Down only 2 points with 1:36 left, the Thunder missed three straight shots -- two by Kevin Durant and one by Russell Westbrook -- and committed a turnover (Durant slipped and bumbled the ball out of bounds) that killed any chance at a comeback win. And Thunder coach Scott Brooks seemed traumatized by it after the game: "We have to get stops in the fourth quarter. We have to learn to get good shots in the fourth quarter and not make turnovers in the fourth quarter. We still have to learn to close things out in the fourth quarter." Translation: FOURTH. QUARTER. FAIL.

The Boston Celtics: How far have the Celtics fallen from grace? Forget the fact that Friday night's loss to Cleveland was the seventh in their last nine games or that the Cavaliers have clearly passed them -- as have, it seems, the Magic -- as The Team To Beat In The East. No, the surest sign of Boston's growing desperation was when Doc Rivers went to the Hack-a-Ben strategy in the fourth quarter. And after the game, the Celtics second-worst defeat of the season, Doc Rivers was scrambling around trying to rationalize the latest loss. "We have some money in the bank with the 19-game winning streak. We're making a withdrawal we don't want to make right now, but we're still 29-9. This is a tough stretch. I don't like it. But we're going to right the ship. When? I don't know." Nice analogy. But considering the utter lack of depth and their inability to acquire any (due to the dearth of available free agents and a complete absence of anything resembling trade bait), it's more like the Celtics have maxed out their credit cards and are trying madly to tranfer balances around just to cover their minimum payments.

Paul Pierce: Mr. "I don't think Kobe is the best player. I'm the best player." didn't even make it into the top five players in Friday's Celts-Cavs game let alone the entire league. LeBron lit him up on offense (38 points on 13-for-25 shooting) and shut him down on defense (11 points on 4-for-15 shooting). And Pierce hit two or three of those shots against Wally Szczerbiak in the fourth quarter. Truth also had 5 turnovers and only 1 assist. This seems as good a time as any to mention that Paul's currently hitting 43.7 percent of his shots, which is the third-worst mark of his 11-year career. Lesson to the kiddies: Overconfidence can be a curse.

Danny Ainge: The Celtics have been missing James Posey all season and especially during their recent slump. But his absence was never more glaring than against the Cavs. Having somebody who could have hit a shot in the fourth quarter would have been nice and stuff, but mostly they missed Posey's relentless defense on LeBron, who had his way with any and every Celtic who dared to guard him. (They, uh, were guarding him...right?) But hey, at least Boston won't have that extra $6 million on their payroll three years from now!

Bobby Simmons: He hit a three-pointer with nine seconds left to tie the Nets-Bucks game at 102 and then made a rude, taunting gesture toward the Milwaukee bench. It would have had more effect if he hadn't let Luke Ridnour cross him over -- dropping him to the floor in the process -- and hit the game-winning floater with 0.5 ticks on the clock.

After the game, Simmons tried to explain away his behavior by saying he was just being "competitive." Whatever. Here's my suggestion, Bobby: Less gesticulation, more staying in front of Luke Ridnour without falling on your ass.

The Washington Wizards: It was just another night in the life of the East's worst team. The Bulls put forth a so-so effort and still beat the Wizards by 12. Actually, Washington trailed by as many as 21 in the final period before Chicago's apathy led to a run that made the final score look deceivingly close. Wizards coach Ed Tapscott said: "The refrain is getting tiresome about falling behind and making a noble comeback and falling just short." Tapscott finds it so tiresome, in fact, that he got himself tossed in the fourth quarter. Don't feel bad, Ed. It could be worst. You could be...

Larry Hughes: "Big Shot Larry" scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to help hold off the Wizards. But that didn't stop the Chicago crowd from booing him every time he touched the ball. Hughes -- who has complained repeatedly about playing time and wants out of the Windy City -- didn't care. Naturally. Said Hughes: "They're the same people that cheer when I make a shot. It's fine. Obviously, I think the fans read the papers and they want to support their team. Whatever's been going on, they read. They feed into it. But as long as I have a Bulls uniform on, I'm out to go out there and play hard and try to get a 'W.' I've been around long enough to know I have to be there for my teammates, support the system, to go out and get a 'W.'" That Larry. He's such a team-first guy.

The Suckramento Kings: The pushed the Heat to overtime...but still lost. The defeat dropped them to 8-29, tying them with the Clippers for the second-worst record in the West. It's also their worst start to a season since the team moved to Sacramento in the 1985-86 season. Said Kings placeholder coach Kenny Natt: "It's obviously another disappointing loss after fighting so hard, having a chance to tie it up in regulation, gong to overtime and having a chance to win another basketball game. Then we let it slip away, so obviously we're disappointed about that." Yes. Obviously.

Shawn Marion: After scoring a season-high 25 points against the Nuggets, Demon Bird Mothballs crashed back to earth with an 8-point effort (on 4-for-9 shooting) against the Kings. Shocking. I know I've been asking this for a while now, but how's that whole "I need to leave Phoenix to be The Man and get The Respect I Deserve?" working out for you again, Shawn?

Jeff Foster: First he got into a slapfight with Vladimir Radmanovic and then, on the Pacers' final possession of the game, when his team still had a chance to tie...well, just watch...starting at the 1:00 mark.

The shot compelled Dr. Hank Pym to email in to ask: "Is Jeff Foster brain dead or something?" Brain dead? No. Retarded? Quite possibly. By the way, ring up another close loss for the Pacers. More on that below...

The Dallas Mavericks: How bad were the Mavs on Friday night? Not only did they let the Suns shoot almost 63 percent for the game and destroy them 128-100 -- and it didn't feel even THAT close by the end -- their craptasticness had some kind of reverse-awful effect on Shaq's foul shooting: The Big Clanky went 7-for-7 from the line. Bonus suck: Phoenix set a season-high for scoring in a quarter (40) in the third period. That just so happened to be the most points allowed by Dallas in a quarter this season. Extra bonus suck: The Suns set a season-high in scoring (their previous highest score was 125 against the Bucks on December 9). Super extra bonus Suck: The Suns 52 field goals were their most of the season (by eight) and the most allowed by the Mavs. Final suck: Phoenix outscored Dallas by 50 in the paint (68-18).

Friday night lactivity report: From Chris:

Wizards-Bulls: Etan Thomas gave Washington a +1 (brick) in 10:58.

Heat-Kings: James Jones earned +2 (giveaway and foul) for the Heat in 3:25.

Pacers-Lakers: Sun Yue racked up a 5 second Super Mario that I'm sure Phil Jackson will wax philosophical about. Or not.

Heat-Kings: Not lacktion per se, but a regular of this section deserves to be noted as the goat tonight in Arco Arena. Suckrament once had a lead with about a minute left in OT, but found the game tied on a D-Wade three. So the jesters took a 24 second violation with 21.6 markers left on the clock. On the subsequent possession, former trillionaire champion John Salmons decided to stop focusing defensively on Dwyane IN OVERTIME, turning his head away twice as the one-time Finals MVP drove past him into the paint and drew some charity stripe time. Woops! Of course, those two free throws turned out to be the game-winning points, with Miami's franchise player finishing up with 41 on the scoreboard.

The Washington Wizards Generals: Their winless weekend mercifully (or perhaps mercilessly) ended with a loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. And they missed eight free throws (20-for-28) in the 3-point loss. know. But the utter futility of Washington's season was properly epitomized by the game's closing sequence. The Wiz were behind by a single point (90-89) with 15 seconds left when Mike James tricked a layup and Andray Blatche missed a tip-in. The Bobcats knocked the ball out of bounds, though, and therefore gave Washington another chance. Which they blew when Nick Young clanked a jumper from the top of the key. Wait, what? Nick Young -- whose nickname is "Bean Burrito" -- took the final shot??! Said Caron Butler: " Nick, a great one-on-one player, fell a little short on the opportunity. It was a situation at the end where we couldn't get the ball to myself or Antawn (Jamison) at the end for the play that was drawn up. We fumbled the ball and that was the game." Okay, when, exactly, did Nick Young become a "great" one-on-one player? I feel like I just woke up from a coma or something.

And here's a weird statistical anomaly: The Generals only attempted a trio of three-pointers. When was the last time THAT happened in the NBA?

Juwan Howard, prayer machine: Regarding Andray Blatche's missed tip-in: "I was like, 'Please Lord, please don't let them tip this ball in. Please don't hit no shot.' I was praying, and my prayers were answered." Based on everything I know about his NBA career, I find it rather hard to believe that God has ever answered one of Juwan's prayers. Of course, that said, he IS still in the league when, by rights, he shouldn't be. So maybe...

The Chicago Bulls: As a Bulls fan, I've suffered through my fair share of "No f-ing way!" moments over the last couple years, particularly last season when the team many people predicted would make the NBA Finals ended up winning only 33 games. None of those moments were more surprising (or painful) than their overtime home loss to the then five-win Thunder. And I can think of no better way to describe my dismay than with the opening paragraph of the AP recap: "It's not often Kevin Durant gets to hear the home fans boo their team when the Oklahoma City Thunder are on the road. So when it happened Saturday night, all he could do was grin." And here's the big picture view: The Bulls just went .500 in a four-game stretch that saw them matched up against the Timberwolves (11-25), Kings (9-29), Wizards (7-29) and Thunder (6-32). They lost to the Wolves and Thunder, barely scraped by versus the Kings and almost blew a 21-point lead against the Wizards. AND THEY WERE ALL HOME GAMES. Said Bulls "seemingly destined for one-and-done" coach Vinny Del Negro: "We were not getting a body on people. They were more physical. We did not share the basketball the way need to. Their effort was better. That is not acceptable." No. No it wasn't.

Stacy King: I got this email from Junokasm after the Bulls' loss to the Thunder: "Bulls just sucked it up. Out rebounded 59-37 and outscored 15-4 in overtime. Where was big shot Larry, Stacey? Speaking of Stacey King...during a Neil Funk promo at around 7:20 in the 3rd quarter, King let a monstrous belch rip, mid-promo! Class. Any chance anyone caught that on video?" I noticed that and tried to find a YouTube clip. Nothing so far.

The New York Knicks: The Houston Rockets were without Knee-Mac and Ron Artest, but the Knicks still lost 96-76, which is a pretty embarrassing score for an up-tempo team. New York shot 35 percent and got pounded on the boards 60-38. Chris Duhon -- whose play this season, according to Bill Simmons, is proof that Steve Nash didn't deserve his MVP trophies -- shot 3-for-7 and finished with 8 points, 6 assists and 3 turnovers. Yep. Nash's success was all Mike D'Anonti. Speaking of Mikey, this is what he had to say about the loss: "We did not get great shots. Our ball movement wasn't good at all. It sapped our fire and then they got energy." Must've sapped the energy from his postgame comments, too. Non-random stats: This season, the Knicks are 0-18 when they trail after three quarters and 1-12 when they score fewer than 100 points. Dismissed as coincidence.

The Detroit Pistons: They fell victim to another revenge game from The Turkish Assassin: Mehmet Okur had a game-high 22 points on near-perfect shooting (8-for-9 from the field, 3-for-3 from downtown). And Mehmet didn't even attempt a field goal in the second half. It was Utah's eighth straight win over the Pistons, who shot only 35 percent and let the Jazz hit almost 54 percent of their field goals. Said Allen Iverson, who had won his own revenge game in Denver the night before: "No excuses. It had nothing to do with being the last game of the trip, dead legs, anything. They were just better than us and they whooped us tonight."

The Golden State Warriors: They shot 50 percent and got 25 points off the bench from Corey "Bad Porn" Maggette but, in true Warriors fashion, lost by double-digits on the road against the Blazers. What happened? Well, Nellie explained afterward that his team struggled with defense, rebounding, turnovers and second-chance points. You know, pretty much everything not related to shooting the ball. "We're just not good at it. It's not that we don't try, we're just not good at it." By "it" he must mean "the game of basketball." Golden State (10-28) is 4-20 on the road this season and has lost seven consecutive games outside of Oakland.

The Portland Trail Blazers: They won the battle against the Warriors, but it looks like they're going to lose the war against the salary cap. For the record, a number of people commented that the Blazers were within their right to issue their threatening email. And while I agree that they have the right to protect their interets, I disagree with the fact that they felt the need to bully 31 other teams via mass email. And so did Cavs owner Dan Gilbert: "Are legal threats through a mass email the best way to circumvent the known potential consequences that could result from the Trailblazers decisions and actions they took with respect to Darius Miles?" Gilbert added that he understood Portland's frustration, "but a pre-emptive threat of 'litigation' directed at all of your partners through a group email does not sit well with me." And it shouldn't sit well with anybody. It's a classless move. IMHO.

Saturday lactivity report: Again from Chris:

Hornets-Wizards: Juan Dixon was the home team's lacktioneer of the night at Verizon Center, giving the ball away once and throwing a singular brick for +2 in 4:22.

Knicks-Rockets: Anthony Roberson played about as well as someone who took a year off from basketball could: three missed shots mixed with a giveaway foul gave the Knicks +5 in an even 12 minutes. The Rockets clearly didn't need Clutch the Bear's clutch air-horn/startling skills in a laugher, as the game was put out of reach in the 3rd quarter (a 76-59 lead, after the Knicks made it a one point game at the end of the first half). Instead, they unleashed a familiar human victory cigar in Luther Head, who didn't disappoint with a 2 trillion.

Pistons-Jazz: Walter Hermann provided nearly 11 minutes of truly sucky basketball for Motown's team, taking a foul and three missed shots for +4 in that extended session of fail. Utah unleashed two garbage time heroes in response, sending out Morris Almond for an unremarkably mediocre 6:42 that netted a +5 (three unsuccessful shots, one block against, and a foul) and Jarron Collins for a sleepy 3:45 session that produced a +2 through a brick and a foul.

Warriors-Blazers: Jermareo Davidson rose from the ranks of obscurity to become the most recent hallmark of 2008-09 Nellieball: yet another new face from the bench to merely eat up cap and playing time, in return providing very little in the way of productivity. One missed shot and a turnover proceeded to give him a +2 in 4:20.

The Toronto Raptors: The Celtics busted out of their slump against the Craptors, who stood by and watched as Ray Allen set Toronto on fire by scoring a season-high 36 points on 8-for-10 from beyond the arc. It's called "a hand in the face," guys. But Lord Kerrance noticed that at least one Craptor didn't think defense was the problem: "Howzabout this quote from Chris Bosh regarding Ray Allen's 3 point performance: 'He hit a couple of wide open shots, but I don't know how much better you can defend some of them. When a guy goes 8-for-10 from the three-point line, that's pretty abnormal.' So 8-for-10 is abnormal, but better defense is not the answer. Maybe Bosh really does want to go to New York in 2010 -- he'd certainly fit in with D'Antoni's defensive schemes."

Boston Celtics, quote machines: Regarding Ray-Ray's hot night, Doc Rivers said: "When Ray gets it going, that's our focus. Feed the pig, that's what we always say. He was the hot guy, so we want to keep feeding him." To which Allen responded: "We don't want the pig to get as fat as it possibly can. One day you have to slaughter the pig." Ba-dah-bum! Paul Pierce, for his part, was being unintentionally dirty: "We just rode his hot hand tonight."

And here's some more from the Doc: "It's funny, I get so many calls saying 'What's wrong with Ray?' and I say 'There's nothing wrong with Ray, he's a great shooter, he'll be a great shooter again and eventually make them. That's why Ray is great and a lot of other players in the league are good. A lot of players will have three or four games like Ray had and go away for a month. Ray believed the next shot had to go in. He knows he's a great shooter and we want him to keep shooting." That's funny, considering Doc SHOULD be getting those calls about Paul Pierce.

Brian Scalabrine versus Joey Graham: And the latest chapter of "Epic NBA Confrontations" unfolds...

The Atlanta Hawks: Look, I hate to be one of those "I told ya so" guys, but...I told ya so. First, I said that once the Philadelphia 76ers adjusted to playing without the injured Elton Brand, they'd probably start running again and go on a winning streak. And sure enough, their win in Atlanta -- in which they dropped 109 points on 54 percent shooting -- gave them their first four-game winning streak of the season. Second, after the Hawks went 7-1 on their eight-game homestand, I predicted that they'd go into a little slump, which is typically what happens after an iffy road team has a successful cluster of home games. Sure enough, the dirty birds have dropped four of their last five and the last three in a row. I'm just sayin'.

Hawks coach Mike Woodson, well, he's still blaming the Magic. And himself. "I think Orlando took some starch out of us a little bit. We're not competing defensively like we have been, and that's on me. I've got to get them back playing defense because that's the only chance we have of winning." Captain Joe Johnson, for his part, thinks the Hawks aren't bringing it. "It's a big concern because we just don't have any energy at all." I've said it before and I'm saying it again, so write this down if you must: Beware inconsistent teams.

Clippers-Suns: What's worse: The ongoing pooptacularness that is the Clippers (who lost their 11th straight game) or the fact that the Suns couldn't be bothered to pull away from a team they should have beaten by, like, 40? I'll go ahead and say those two things are equally bad. This was one of those games that seemed entertaining, but really wasn't.

The impending alien invasion: Okay. Shaq went 7-for-7 from the line against the Mavs and then 5-for-5 against the Clippers? The Big Clanky perfect in two straight games? Okay. I think it's time to go to Shaq's house and check his basement for Body Snatcher pods. I find this chilling? Is anybody else chilled by this?

Said Shaq (a.k.a. Lord Slo-GAR from the Ninth Plane): "I'm trying to get my name in the top five in scoring by the time I'm done, so I'm just trying to get as many easy points as I can. I was always a pretty good free throw shooter in high school, but I tried to make it better rather than just staying with what I know. Whenever you switch up on something, bad luck will happen to you. Now I'm just shooting it the way I was taught to a long, long time ago." That quote was very nearly egotistical enough to fool me into believing it's the real Shaq. But I know better. If you need me, I'll be blogging from the nearest nuclear fallout shelter.

Mike Dunleavy, crazy machine: I think the alien Shaq has finally pushed Mikey over the edge. "You just can't give Shaq too many dribbles. When he's got the deep catch in there and you give him a couple of dribbles, nobody in the world can stop that the guy. And he's made like 12 free throws in a row, so it's not like it used to be, when you could play straight up and take a foul and know that you could get one, maybe two misses out of the deal. To his credit, it's a totally different deal with him now." I'm not the only person who can see all the things that are totally wrong in that quote, am i?

Shaq, excuse machine: Regarding the closer-than-it-should-have-been score: "A team that loses a lot is always a hungry team, and they've lost a lot of games in the last couple of minutes -- including this one. Every team that plays against us is going to be playing way over their heads." Okay. I was wrong. He's still the real Shaq.

Grant Hill, quote machine: Regarding the eight offensive fouls drawn by the Suns: "You've got to give Steve Nash credit. He had six of them. He was giving a clinic out there. He looked very much like Bobby Hurley in 1992 just taking charges left and right. ... Those of us who can't dunk anymore, we've got to make good plays by taking charges." Am I the only one who cracked up at the Hurley reference? Does that date me?

The San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs become known over the last decade as a perennial contender who beat teams down the stretch with their poise and experience. That didn't happen against the Magic. Tony Parker bonked a couple layups in the final two minutes and the Spurs finished the game by missing six of their final seven shots. They are settling into that post-contender phase where they're still really good but more often than not lose to the real championship contenders. Yeah, they're gonna win 50+ games and they might even make it to the Western Conference Finals. But unless something radical happens in the next year or two, I think we've seen the final championship of the Tim Duncan Era.

The Dallas Mavericks: The blowout loss to the Suns on the second night of back-to-backs? That I could understand. But losing to a previously 8-win Kings team that had lost 11 of their last 12 games? Wowsers. Said Jason Terry: "We had a meltdown on all fronts in Phoenix but tonight was an all-out effort. We put ourselves in position to win but they wanted it more than us. When you are not making shots and getting stops, you are going to lose the game." Well...yeah. Anyway, know what I just wrote about the Spurs? Same goes for the Mavs, except for the whole having already won a title part.

The Indiana Pacers: The D'Antoni-lite Era in Indiana continued as the Pacers lost yet another close game as Jamal Crawford nailed the game-winning three-pointer with 11.3 seconds left. The Pacers have lost 24 games, 16 of which were by: 6, 4, 2, 2 (in OT), 1, 3, 7 (in OT), 5 (in OT), 4, 8 (in 2OT), 1, 3, 2, 6, 2 and 3. Of course, I guess you're going to lose a lot of close games when you can't get defensive stops. Just ask Danny Granger: "I thought we had it. It was very frustrating, but that's kind of been the way we've lost games. We know we're right there. We just need a stop to win the game, and we're not doing it right now." Yup. But hey, they might be losing, but with their offense, at least watching them lose is more fun than it used to be when Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson were jacking up horrible shots.

The Miami Heat: The good: They put themselves into a good position to win by holding Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to a combined 9-29 from the field. The bad: They surrendered season-highs to Andrew Bynum (24 points) and Vladimir Radmanovic (18) and got pushed around in the paint, as evidenced by the Lakers' 53-38 advantage on the boards and Bynum's go-ahead follow-up shot with 18.5 seconds left (the Lakers had 17 offensive boards for the game). And while much is being made of the fact that Miami's bench outscored L.A.'s reserves 56-20, it should also be noted that Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony combined for 2 points and Udonis Haslem scored only 8.

Random note on the Lakers: They're now 20-2 at home and 10-4 on the road. Their 22 home games are tied for the most in the NBA with Charlotte, and their 14 road games are a league low. I'm just, you know, sayin'.

Kobe Bryant: He made me sad.

Sunday Lactivity Report: Chris speaks (via writing):

Celtics-Raptors: Jake Voskuhl appears in the lacktivity report yet again, racking a +3 (fouls) in 3:44 for Toronto.

Sixers-Hawks: Acie Law returns to the ranks of the unremarkable, as he laced just over six minutes of lacktion with a foul and giveaway for +2.

Mavs-Kings: Mikki Moore, he of the oddly spelled cereal-advertisement moniker, threw a brick for Suckramento (yes, after beating Dallas and passing the 100-point barrier, they get an O back) for +1 in 5:32.

Heat-Lakers: Miami's James Jones took a foul and missed from downtown for a +2 in 6:39. Teammate Yakhouba Diawara added his name to the lacktion ledger with +2 via a bricked three and a foul in 3:11.


Blogger chris said...
That "feed" line seems to be more appropriate for Big Baby than it does Ray Allen...

Blogger Junior said...
And mind you, the Raptors were still without Jose Calderon and Jose Calderon.

there are two Calderons on Craptors?

Blogger Victor said...
Here's another example of Dwight Howard emulating Shaq. During the Hawks/Magic massacre, Howard made a tough layup with his left hand. After the shot, he stared at his left hand in disbelief, and the Atlanta announcers quickly pointed out that Shaq used to do that too. Lo and behold, during the Suns/Mavs game later that night, Shaq makes a shot with his off hand and stares at it like it was a cheeseburger.

And on the topic of FT shooting, I remember the announcers saying during the Suns/Mavs game that Grant Hill saw some of Shaq's high school FT shooting clips and told him to go back to the old form.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Dwight has been doing that for at least 2/3 seasons when he blocks someone

Blogger Junior said...
And a good thing is that Mike Dunleavy has more techinal fouls than wins this season, 9 against 8

way to go Mike!!

Come on, you are going to let the announcers' calls for making Scalabrine Player of the Game against the Craptors? He had ok 2 quarters of play but he also racked 4 fouls in time. yeah, he hit a three pointer and had a block, but that was all. i guess it was just a case of low expectations - Doc was forced to play him, knowing that chances were Scal was going to suck. Nothing to lose for Scal...This made me think...Kwame Brown is kinda in the same situation. We know he sucks. But in a bizzaro scenario, who would you pick - Scal or Kwame ?

Blogger Bobbo said...
I think God was smiling pretty heavily on Juwan Howard when he signed a 7-year 105 million dollar contract with the Washington Bullets. i'm just sayin'.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
lol @ Bobbo.

Although it looks like you put no thought effort into it, I thought this weekend's Kobe comment was one of your greatest.

And somehow, I feel compelled not to click links "monstrous turd" and "Teenage Catgirls in Heat" at work. Could you possibly implement the NSFW/SFW reminders for ambiguous stuff like this so I can properly waste time at my job?

Blogger XForce23 said...
The Kings/Heat game was actually a really fun to watch, especially late game and the overtime. John Salmons was getting absolutely brutalized by Wade, and there was nothing they could do about it. Off Miami's high screen, Sacramento would hedge Wade as far as they could, but Wade would still manage to get into the paint before his own defender could get back into position, even with the hedge.

And one play where Salmons was terrified of that high screen and looked away from Wade, only when he looked back Wade was gone and at the basket already. EPIC

Anonymous Anonymous said...
On the day Shaq was drafted, Many shubs and zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day - I can tell you!

Blogger chris said...
Kevin: I saw that Salmons play as it happened noted in the lacktivity report, it isn't surprising that he's a former NBA Trillionaire Champion.

Blogger DDC said...
Scalabrine looks like Bobby Hill from King of the Hill. He also has Bobby's athletic ability. Matt, what do you make of how the East will play out come May? The Magic are starting to look legit, I know it's still early, but their on pace to win 65 games and they also outscore their opponents by an average of 7.8 ppg. I predicted the Cavs to make the Finals by defeating the Celtics in the ECF before the season started, but the Magic look to be more of a threat than the Celts at the moment.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I think you misunderstood Bosh's comment, Bawful. He was saying that apart from two or three open shots, the rest were just tough shots that he nailed in the defender's face. It's Ray Allen, he's gonna have nights like this every now and again.

As for the team being better without Jose and the Drain? They're not, but they sure could be with pieces like T.J, Rasho, and Jose himself to be moved.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I can't believe you defended Pierce's performance against Cleveland like that! You're such a homer!

Just kidding :)

Jeff Foster's slapfight with Vlad Radmanovic actually worked in the Pacers' favor, since only The Space Cadet Snowboarder got T'd up. That indecision on the final play though, not so good.

How can you say God never answered any of Juwan Howard's prayers? Not only is he still in the league, at one point he was signed to a contract worth over $100m. Somebody up there sure likes him.

I think you're dead on in your analysis of the Spurs: they look done to me. They might have the worst 4-12 roster of any team in the league. I'm amazed they're as high in the Western standings as they are, but I think that speaks a lot to how much the West has fallen off from last year. At least the Hornets seem to be rounding back into form.

You watch a lot more Pacer games then I do, but if their end of the game execution on Friday against the Lakers was any indication of what they normally do, it's no wonder they lose so many close games. First they put Danny Granger single coverage on Kobe when Granger had 5 fouls with the game real close and less than a minute to go. At that point you've got to factor in overtime and you have to protect your best player in that position, not put him on one of the league's best scorers in isolation defense. What happened? Granger reached on Kobe and fouled out. Then with the game tied and the Lakers with the ball as the game clock wound down the Pacers again elected to go with single coverage on Kobe, this time with PG Jack. What happened? Kobe hit a basically uncontested turnaround jumper for the win. I don't know if that was all just poor coaching or what, but the Pacers did a good job of giving that thing away at the end.

The Laker bench is pretty thin right now with Odom, Walton & Farmar out with injuries, but LA has been eeking out wins anyway. The incredibly favorable schedule through this point of the season has helped a lot too (not just lots of home games, but lots of crappy opponents). I'd say the Lakers are gonna have their work cut out for them in the 2nd half of the year, except that the West is pretty mediocre this year so it might not matter (except in the case of HCA in the Finals, of course).

Blogger Basketbawful said...
chris -- Too true.

Junior -- Okay. Here's what happened. Originally I wrote "Jermaine O'Neal and Jose Calderon." But my conscience wouldn't let me put The Drain ahead of Ocho. So I started to change it and then got distracted. Which, again, is what happens when you're throwing this stuff together at four in the morning.

Victor -- Funny how Shaq didn't mention that Grant might have been the one to suggest the change. Hey, that's Shaq for you. He cannot give external credit.

Junior -- Dude. He's just sticking up for his team.

Zonker -- Scalabrine. The dude is a wiz at candlepin bowling, whereas Kwame's most notable hobby is cake throwing.

Bobbo -- That's more about the power of Satan, I think, than God answering prayers.

AnacondaHL -- Those links take you to the kind of YouTube videos you don't even have to sign in to view. Which I guess makes them SFW. Unless giant, mutant poop people will get you in trobule with the boss.

Kevin -- Hm. When you put it that way...

BadDave -- I'm am not your Gatekeeper. That is all.

DDC -- Honestly, I can't see any team in the East beating the Cavaliers. And right now, it's a toss-up as to whether the Magic or Celtics will face them in the ECFs. Orlando is on a big roll right now, but take a look at their roster. They're no deeper than the Celtics. But they're younger and, if you check the numbers, they're right with the C's defensively (only 0.4 back in defensive efficiency). Unless Stephon Marbury turns out to be the Apollo Creed who can give them The Eye of the Tiger back, I see Boston fading in the Eastern semis.

Czernobog -- I understand that's what he said, but having watched the game...Ray got some open shots and had some other shots where the defender simply lost him. It wasn't totally a case of Ray hitting impossible, Kobe-like shots.

Wild Yams -- The Spurs are getting by on coaching, experience and execution right now. It happens with all great teams that are just past their expiration date. They can still beat most teams on a given night, but not the true contenders. And they'll struggle to make it past the second round. It's a kind of limbo. The Spurs managed to stave off that limbo for a while by making key veteran pickups year after year. Well, that hasn't happened for a few years, has it? Time has caught up to them.

As for the Pacers, their end-of-game execution is bad (although not always as bad as it was against L.A.) and, worse, they can never get a stop in the fourth quarter. Basically, they have to outscore other teams. It's just a D'Antoni-lite system, like I said. Hoping the other team misses isn't a formula for pulling through in the fourth quarter.

I think that the Lakers should be healthy by the time the schedule catches up to them and that they'll be fine. Basically, unless something radically changes, we're looking at a Craboliers/Lakers Finals.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I think it's too early to write off the Celtics (and Magic, surprisingly) and just assume it's gonna be the Cleveland Crabs in the Finals. Boston's stumbling a bit lately, but when it comes down to it, they've still got 3 of the best 4 players in a series with the Crabs. The C's may just be pacing themselves a bit, and I can't really blame them if they are. They were on a breakneck pace for over 100 games last year and then the first 30 of this year. They can afford to cruise and still have a top 3 seed and be in great shape for the playoffs. Of course, the real downside is that the #2 seed will have to play the #3 seed and the #1 seed to make it to the Finals, and it's looking more and more like that #2-#3 seed matchup in the second round is gonna be a monster.

In the West though, I'm not really sure if there's anyone else that's stepped up enough to really challenge the Lakers that much in their quest to go back to the Finals. The Hornets are rounding into form, but I think they're too small to push LA too much in a 7 game series. Time will tell.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
That there is a prediction, it is - remember it folks. I'm going with the Magic/Lakers prediction. I just think something will happen with the nest of crabs. Clicking now make me think they're peaking too soon.

Of course, by that pure logic I'm looking at the mecca of b-ball: Pacers vs. Jazz. Now that's and dogs living together. MASS HYSTERIA!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I just can't see the Magic doing it in a 7 game series. I don't think they are diverse enough. Their admittedly potent weapons allow them to win a lot of regular season games, but I think they lose the adjustment battles of the postseason against an elite team because there's not that much to adjust TO.

What are the Cs going to do without a bench? They need somebody to replace Posey and Brown, and I don't see it happening. Rondo could be the difference maker, but I can't help but wonder if he's not just a good role player feeding off of the Big 3.

And yeah, who will stop the Lakers. It makes me a little depressed just thinking about it. LA has way to much smug in it without another title, and I think I'll barf if I have to see Kobe's shit-eating grin morph into a championship magnitude "the sun shines out of my ass" grin. Ick. I get shivers just thinking about it.

Then I stop to think how many titles LA would have one had Kobe and Shaq not been dicks. That makes me happy again. There is a God. :)

Blogger lordhenry said...
BasketBawful: He made me sad. "Unless Stephon Marbury turns out to be the Apollo Creed who can give them The Eye of the Tiger back, I see Boston fading in the Eastern semis."

Dammit, not you too! Marbury MUST be Satan, it's the only thing that explains his power to go from "locker room cancer" to "potential savior" without playing a single game! Marbury is NOT the answer, I see him being the catalyst to ending this team. What I really want is a finals rematch, I don't want L.A. to beat cleveland or orlando. I think if boston avoids the evil seduction of Marbury, this team will get back on track, and get back to the finals.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
The Celtics definitely need some help, but it doesn't sound like there's any teams out there who are really willing to help solidify the reigning champs. PJ Brown has reaffirmed that he is definitely retired for good, so I don't know where Boston is gonna get that help off the bench from this year (Starbury!). Ainge was really, really foolish to try to plan for the future with an aging team that just won the championship. Someone shoulda told Danny that the Celtics are not gonna be a championship team built around Rondo in three years with The Big Three all being supporting guys along with whomever Ainge can entice with the money saved from not signing Posey.

More and more I'm thinking the Magic are for real; and they're going to be tough in the playoffs just due to Dwight Howard. Dominant post play is one of the biggest key things to postseason success, and Howard's about the best post player out there. If Orlando meets Boston or Cleveland in the playoffs and the Magic have home court advantage, I'd give them a decent chance of winning that series. I wouldn't favor them, but that would be closer than people might expect.

Blogger Mintz... said...
'Bawful... I'm not gonna lie... when i saw you write "(No, no, no. THIS is a monstrous turd.)"
I expected a picture of a huge piece of poop... and as disgusting as that thought is... I was somewhat dissapointed with the subsequent video (even though it too was a monstrous turd as promised).

Blogger Mintz... said...
WOW I apologize... I did NOT watch that entire video until right now. I completely retract my comment. Nothing could have represented a monster turd more than that video. once again.. I am SO sorry.

ps. that was hilarious.

I think it's interesting the way "the people" have been judging Lakers games (basketbawful excluded): they will win, albeit barely, against a rash of teams, and assertions are thrown about that since they can't beat "bad" teams by "4,000" then they aren't actually as good as we all normally think. But most people (basketbawful excluded) forget that they are without their backup point guard (Farmar), sixth man (Odom), and that one weird, underrated defender who runs the offense really well (Walton).

I think it's easy to forget the loss of these three guys because we normally see the Lakers as being the deepest team in the league. But, deep or not, wins without three members of your normal 8-9 man rotation are solid wins, especially when someone named "Josh Powell" contributes ten points.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Wait, wait, wait. Son of Walton is an "underrated defender"? He defended himself nicely against that stalker, but otherwise his defense leaves a lot to be desired. The only reason his defense might be underrated is because it's so widely regarded as being putrid, when instead it might only be real bad.

As far as the Lakers, we'll get a clear indication of where they're at over the next four games (at Houston and San Antonio and at home against the Magic and Crabs).

Bawful: I'd pick Scal too...He is the ultimate white hustle dude, plus he has a basketball skills video (little kids will look up to him to shape their game ...that's sounds wrong on so many levels)