The eye candy doesn't change the fact that the Thunder's new
mascot is somewhere between "totally lame" and "gak."
Shaq: When asked recently whether Dwight Howard was the closest thing to Shaq since Shaq, The Big Cranky said: "No. Not at all. He's a good player. He can jump. But no. I was the type of player that they had to have secret meetings and change the rules and do all that. Probably never be another me. He's a good player, but everything he's done, I've invented. So I'm not impressed. He's a good player, a fabulous player. But for me to get my eyes wide open about another big man, he'll have to do something that I haven't seen before or something that I haven't invented." Shaq also added: "Turkoglu is probably the MVP of their team." In that light, I'm sure The Big Load really enjoyed showing Howard up at the All-Star Game. Seriously, +1 to Shaq.
But last night, however, it was +45/19/8 for Superman. Howard had a career-high 45 points to compliment his 19 rebounds and 8 blocks in leading the Orlando Magic to a 107-102 overtime victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. Stan Van Gundy, who doles out hyperbolic compliments warily and rarely, said: "Dwight was unbelievable, unbelievable. I mean phenomenal. He just put us on his back. That's leadership right there, that kind of play on the floor. It kept everyone else motivated."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau: Since the NBA started recording blocked shots for the 1973-74 season, no NBA player ever has had this many points, rebounds and blocks in the same game. Howard also tied The Big Historian's franchise record by notching his 18th straight double-double. If he breaks that record tonight in New Orleans, think Shaq will give him any credit? No, me neither.
(Oh and by the way: Everything Shaq claims to have "invented" was actually invented by Wilt Chamberlain first. Only bigger. And better. I'm just sayin'.)
Stat update: From Basketbawful reader Ruben: "Finally! Another Calvin Murphy! I've been checking the box scores for the last 6-8 weeks, and this is only the second one. (Brad Miller's near triple-double. LeBron with 14 assists and 9 rebounds on the same night doesn't really count.) Okafor got his share of history with a 14 point and 9 rebound Calvin Murphy on the same day as being dominated by Dwight's 45 and 19. Interestingly, Okafor is one of the players closest to averaging a Calvin Murphy, averaging 14/10.8. Others are: Andrew Bynum (14/8.2), Nene (14.7/8.1) and Paul Millsap (14.8/9.2). Having followed this stat so closely has made me realise how rare it is, and that we should truly celebrate this feat in all its bawful glory."
The Washington Wizards Generals: I know. They won. But coughing up a 19-point lead at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves -- who are playing without their "coulda been an All-Star" Al Jefferson -- and then eking out a 111-103 win (that was pretty close until the final minute) didn't exactly inspire me to drop the whole "Generals" shtick. Said Mike James: "We couldn't have lost this game. This was a game where we were in control most of the game -- and then in the third quarter, they rallied and made it a basketball game. We had to come out and solidify ourselves." Solid as a styrofoam rock, Mikey. Speaking of James...
Oleksiy Pecherov: From Basketbawful reader Andrei: "I'm sure that no one saw this since it came at the end of Wizards-T-Wolves game, but after Mike James hit a three towards the end of the game to put the Wizards up four, Oleg Pecherov did the Pedro Cerrano Big Balls Dance. The Wizards held on to win the game despite the premature celebration. I suppose the only question that remains is whether this should count in Big Balls Dance stats as a win considering the teams and players involved?" Good question, Andrei. Here's my roundabout answer. You know how after big-time games -- the Super Bowl, the deciding game of the NBA Finals, etc. -- somebody on the winning team always thanks God for the victory? Forget for a second that that's crazy. It could be proof that God only cares about important games that involve important players. Last night's Wolves-Wizards matchup clearly doesn't fall into that category. Ergo the Big Balls Dance Curse was not invoked. Pecherov is basically a basketball non-entity. He doesn't even warrant a stat curse.
Mike Miller: Memo to Mr. Miller: You're a shooter, not a slasher. Stick to doing what you do. Do you see me trying to be not-awesome? Exactly.
The Philadelphia 76ers: They shot 38 percent from the floor, goinked 10 free throws and fell into a 20-point hole from which they could not climb out. Meanwhile, the Pacers were dropping buckets like it was a layup drill. Indy had five players in double figures: Danny Granger (20), Troy Murphy scored (17, including 8 in the fourth quarter), Roy Hibbert (14), T.J. Ford (also 14), Jarrett Jack (12) and Marquis Daniels (11). Said Sixers coach Tony DiLeo: "They have a quick moving offense and everyone gets good opportunities. That doesn't surprise me they had so many in double figures." Surprise, no. But it should probably, I dunno, shame you a little.
The Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are descending into horror faster than the main character in a Steven King novel. And a King character would probably have more hope for the immediate future than Detroit does. Last night, the Pistons failed at home against a Milwuakee team that's playing without their two best players (Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut) and Luke Ridnour. The latest humiliation dropped them to 2-9 at the Palace in the last six weeks. They were 34-7 at home last season. Said the Not-Answer: "You are supposed to play your best basketball at home, and we obviously aren't doing that. I don't think there's any focus. It's easy to be focused when you are on the road and have 20,000 of their fans cheering against you, but you can't come home and expect your fans to win the games for you. They help, but you've got to play."
Added Pistons coach Michael Curry: "People look at this team and see three faces from the 2004 championship, but this is a different team. We've tried some things to get this team more used to playing well here, but we just aren't playing good basketball anywhere right now." Very true. But don't worry, Detroit fans. All this losing, it's all part of the plan. Just ask Joe Dumars. Anyway...
Allen Iverson: Detroit is now 23-25 since trading for the Not-Answer.
The San Antonio Spurs: Alrighty then. The Spurs have lost two in a row to the Craptors (21-34) and the Knicks (22-31). Didn't they just beat the Celtics in Boston a little over a week ago? Weird. And San Antonio's defense was dismantled by Krypto-Nate Robinson, who scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. And yes, he out-boarded everybody on the Spurs roster except Tim Duncan. Not bad for somebody who would have to take an elevator to reach four feet tall. But while Nate was playing big, another little guy was playing quite small...
Tony Parker: Coming off his woeful performance in the Skills Challenge, TP scored only 14 points on 20 shots. Two of his attempts were fed back to him by Wilson Chandler. And those stuffs were the only blocks that the Knicks recorded last night. Said Parker: "I was missing layups. I was missing everything tonight. (Nate) was making shots. He was the opposite of me."
Tracy McGrady: Here's some breaking news that should come as a shock to nobody: Knee-Mac is done for the season. This of course contradicts previous reports indicating that McGrady has yet to play at all this season. I wonder if Kenny Smith will revise his "Rockets to win it all" prediction now? Sadly, this story is taking a pretty sinister turn...
The Houston Rockets medical staff: The doctors said he could play through the pain, that performing his basketball duties couldn't make things any worse. Now it looks like Tracy will need to undergo microfracture surgery on his left knee. If the report is true then, man, that's a pretty big mistake to make with a $100 million knee. I'm talking a mistake of career-threatening proportions. As if McGrady wasn't already a tragic figure.
Devin Harris: The Nets were thumped by the Tracy McGrady-less Rockets last night by the score of 114-88. They are now 13-23 -- a full 10 games below .500 -- since Harris said: "We knew we were going to be a playoff team." If the playoffs started today, the Nets would not be invited to the party. As a side note, Harris scored 10 points on 14 shots and finished with only 4 assists. As always, I'm just sayin'.
The Memphis Grizzlies: It's not so much the 18-point loss as this blurb I noticed in the game notes section of the AP recap: "Jarron Collins got his second start of the season and scored all of his season-high eight points in the third quarter." Seriously, who lets Jarron Collins explode for an 8-point quarter? Olden Polynice could probably come out of retirement -- make that "out of the crypt" -- and drop a double-double on these guys.
The Los Angeles Clippers: Beware the dead coach bounce! Alvin Gentry put the fun and the gun back into the Phoenix Suns, for one night at least. Against the Clippers. The 140-100 beatdown was so ugly that Skynet is currently sending an army of hunter-killer cyborgs to 1984 to keep the Clippers from moving to Los Angeles. We can only pray they succeed. The Suns scored 38 points in the first quarter. They shot 75.6 percent from the floor during the first 24 minutes. And, by the half, Phoenix had more points in the paint (50) than the Clippers had total (49). Other tidbits include: Phoenix scored a season-high 81 points in the first half and finished with a season-best 140 points; the Suns beat the Clippers by 40 points, the largest margin of victory following a coaching change in NBA history; and this was the Suns' fifth 140-point game (second in regulation) dating back to the 1995-96 season. Oh yeah, and they grabbed almost 40 more rebounds (58-21)!! The Clippers: They are who we thought they were. Speaking of which...
Zach Randolph: Z-Bo likes to fight, so much so that he once punched teammate Ruben Patterson in the face during practice. Well, some things never change, I guess, since Zach threw a fierce punch at Louis Amundson last night. I was really hoping Amundson would retaliate with a Sonic Boom or maybe a Flash Kick, but no such luck. Here's the video:
What was Zach's rationale for the attack? He claims Louis tried to kiss him. No, I'm serious. "He ran up in my face, I just got him up out of my face. He hopped up, got in my face and almost kissed me in my mouth, so I just pushed him out of my face." Pushed? Wait, it wasn't a punch, then? "If I would have hit him, he wouldn't have got up off the ground." Wow. What a tough guy. Sure, he's living in his own separate reality where "pushing" someone is done with a closed fist and everyone should fear his mighty, bone-crushing strength. But he's tough. No fifth grade girl would ever mess with him. (For the record, I'm betting David Stern will consider that "push" a "punch.")
Amundson's take: "Basically, he just threw me down when I was going for a rebound. I was on the floor and could feel him on top of me, kind of like stepping on me -- I don't know what he was trying to do. So I got up, and I was pretty upset about the whole situation, got in his face, then he did what he did. I'm not going to back down from anybody. I don't care who you are in this league. I was getting in his face, but I wasn't trying to kiss him." Sorry, Zach. No man love for you.
The Atlanta Hawks: They held Kobe Bryant to a season-low 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting...and lost by 13 in L.A. They probably should have tried to keep an eye on Pau Gasol (12 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) and Lamar Odom (15 points, 20 boards) too. And shot better than 36 percent while they were at it. That probably would have helped.
Update! More from Wild Yams: "I just wanted to post a bit about last night's "effort" by the Hawks, because today's writeup didn't fully capture how miserable they were. Not only were they outrebounded 67-39, but they also gave up 28 offensive rebounds (two short of a Laker franchise record). In addition, Pau Gasol had a triple-double before the 3rd quarter ended, the Hawks got some really favorable road cookin' with a 28-10 FTA advantage, and still the game was such a blowout Gasol and Bryant didn't play at all in the fourth quarter. The final score didn't reflect how uncompetitive the game was, as the Lakers led by 21 with less than 2 minutes to play. The Lakers actually came out slow to start the night and trailed 24-15 before going on a 50-18 run that stretched from the 1st quarter through the 3rd to put the game well out of reach. It was eerily similar to what happened the last time Atlanta played the Lakers at Staples center almost a year ago to the day, when LA had a 56-16 run against the Hawks to give them a 41 point first half lead. Maybe Atlanta needs to look into finding a different hotel to stay at when visiting Los Angeles? Really, when Pau Gasol has more assists than any three players on the other team combined, you know it was bad."
Update! Mario West: Basketbawful reader Dana nominated the following rather fantastic smother chicken of Mario "The Mario" West for a WotN. And rightfully so. By the way, almost seven minutes of PT for Mario? You know it's a blowout when...
Kobe Bryant: Mamba filled Luke Walton's jock strap with Ben-Gay. It was a painful discovery, but Luke was still mildly relieved. He asked, semi-hopefully, "Is that it?" Kobe replied: "Wait for it...waaaaait for it." Then an anvil fell on Luke.
Lacktion Report: I can tell you one thing about Chris: Lacktion is his business, and business is good.
Sixers-Pacers: Marreese Speights' ability to deliver a negatory statline is rather underrated, with a non-clutch suck differential of +3 in 2:06 consisting of a brick and two fouls.
Spurs-Knicks: Madison Square Garden hosted an 8-bit overtime game, as San Antonio's Ime Udoka and New York's Anthony Roberson became opposing-team Mario Brothers (45 and 41 seconds respectively), though Ime apparently had a fireflower along the way via successfully blasting it once from downtown.
Bucks-Pistons: As predicted in the original WOTD definition, Dan Gadzuric racked up a Voskuhl once more! Tonight he produced a Madsen-level Voskuhl of 1:0 (one foul and two bricks against nothing positive) that also racked him a +3 in 2:59.
Grizzlies-Jazz: Quinton Ross shouldn't worry anymore about his investments in this down economy, as he filled his coffers with a three trillion for Memphis! Utah's Kyrylo Fesenko was out of his brain in 5:15 with a bit of a Voskuhl at 3:2, three fouls against two made free throws.
Hawks-Lakers: Thomas Gardner spent 5:04 of forgettable floor time for Atlanta earning a +2 via bricks.
Shawn Marion: From flohtingPoint: "I find it a bit funny that Marion, someone who already deals with a huge inferiority complex, has been traded for not one, but two washed up O'Neals." 'Nuff said.