Bango, the Milwaukee Bucks mascot: See that picture? Bango got hurt! During All-Star game festivities. No, really.
It's all fun and games until a man dressed as an animal tears his ACL falling through a basketball hoop. The Bucks, of course, released a statement: "While gazelle-like dunks and agile maneuvers around the court will be impossible for a time, the heart of Bucks game-night entertainment and the emotional leader of Bucks fans of all ages will continue to lead fan enthusiasm at home games."
Take-backs: Just when the people of Oklahoma City had something (other than Kevin Durant's scoring) to get excited about, Tyson Chandler magically became a Hornet again. If you consider "failing a physical because of turf toe" to be magical. Wow. This is the first time -- in any sport -- I've heard about a turf-toe condition killing a trade. And he failed a physical because of it? I guess that physical had a lot of toe-related tests. ("Okay, Tyson, we need to you push this two-ton granite slab across the court and then fight off a pack of wild dogs...using only your toe. Now: GO!") Why do I get the feeling that Thunder GM Sam Presti rather have expiring contracts than Chandler's salary, which will be close to $12 million next season?
And now Chandler is heading back to New Orleans. I'm sure he'll be totally psyched to get healthy and play hard for a team that was willing to give him away for table scraps. Can't you just imagine Byron Scott calling him and saying, "Tyson, we NEED you!" and Chandler responding, "Sorry, coach, my toe...it's still pretty sore." I can then envision him hanging up before erupting into evil laughter as he destroys a marble bust of James Bond using the laser attachment on his new bionic toe implant.
The Indiana Pacers: Honestly, they didn't have much of a chance to beat the Bobcats after Danny Granger left the game with a sprained right foot. Granger scored 12 points in 10 minutes before he went down. Said Pacers coach Jim O'Brien: "Not enough weapons. When we lost Danny, obviously that hurts a great deal. We just didn't make enough shots. We had a lot of open shots in the fourth quarter, point-blank shots, and didn’t make them." By the way, Granger is currently sixth in the league in scoring (behind D-Wade, LeBron, Kobe, Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki) at 25.0 PPG. But he plays for the Pacers, so it's like those points don't even exist. I might as well say he's averaging 43 snipe per game and has collected two pieces of the Triforce so far this season.
By the way, Indiana's Troy Murphy is averaging 13.1 PPG, 11.4 RPG and 43 percent three-point shooting. Meanwhile, New York's David Lee is averaging 16.4 PPG, 11.8 RPG and 56 percent shooting (all layups). Only nobody (outside of the beat writers covering the Pacers for the Associated Press) is talking about Murphy while many people are all like, "OH MY GOD, DAVID LEE!" I'm not trying to agree with Bill Simmons or anything, but Mike D'Antoni sure has changed the perception of Lee's career.
Update! I swear I'm not talking out of my you-know-what here. Take a look at Lee's advanced stats. Now look at Murphy's. Lee is a couple points ahead in PER, but he's played almost 200 more minutes and has a higher Usage Rate (19.1 to 16.1). But their Per 36 Minute numbers are pretty much the same, as are their Offensive/Defensive Ratings and True Shooting Percentage. Lee's one big advantage over Murphy, as Wild Yams pointed out, is contract size: Lee's contract is $4.47 million for this year and next year while Murphy's is $33.14m for the next three years. But keep in mind that Lee will be a restricted free agent this summer...and people will be throwing money at him. I guarantee it. So that advantage may not be so advantageous six months from now...
Ben Wallace: AK Dave turned me on to this story: "Wallace explained Wednesday how he cut his right arm crashing through a car window during a street football game in Richmond, Va., over the All-Star break. Wallace needed 14 stitches to close the cut, then had more glass removed from his arm at the Cleveland Clinic the following day. ... Asked who won the collision with the car, Wallace said he did, then paused. 'I guess,' he said. 'The window didn't bleed. I don't think it was made to bleed.' The play didn’t go down as a reception, either. 'That was the biggest disappointment,' Wallace said. 'I dropped the ball. That's good D.'"
As AK Dave put it: "Riiiight...that's the biggest disappointment? How about cutting the shit out of your arm and injuring yourself playing a game that thousands of school children manage to play everyday withOUT ramming into parked cars?" One good thing did come out of the injury, though...
Delonte West, advice machine: Also pointed out by AK Dave. Said Wallace: "Delonte told everybody, 'When you go on this break, don't do anything that's going to stop you from coming back and being with the team. Be careful, get a couple of workouts in and just enjoy the break.' I should have taken his advice." Who would have guessed that listening to Delonte West could help anyone avoid tragedy.
Shawn Marion: Finally! Finally The Matrix is out of the shadows of guys like Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade. And with Chris Bosh still out with a knee injury, the Craptors became Marions team...if only for a night. Well, I know what you're thinking, Shawn, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since your bitched and moaned your way out of Phoenix: Why, oh why didn't you take the blue pill? Marion scored only 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocked shots in a game-high 40 minutes. Not exactly the kind of superstar impact you might from a guy who whined and pouted his way into a trade last year when Steve Kerr didn't give him a max contract extension. As an aside, the Craptors shot 36 percent, scored only 76 points and lost by 17 at home to the Craboliers. And Marion didn't have much impact on Toronto's team defense, either, since the Crabs shot almost 60 percent for the game.
Here's some bonus Matrix, regarding his unhappiness in Miami (via dunkside): "The game is supposed to be exciting. I'm tired of playing that boring style in the half court, watching everybody just go up and run plays, call this play. That's boring. The fans don't enjoy it either. People like to see you get up and down, have high-scoring games and dunks and all that stuff. That's what it's about." Reminder: This is the same guy who WANTED OUT OF PHOENIX. Wow. Still, it could have been worse. The Craptors could still have...
Jermaine O'Neal: The Heat are a mere one game into the Jermaine O'Neal Era and Pat Riley is already finding out why I call him "The Drain." O'Neal scored 13 points (6-for-9), but he only grabbed a single, lonely rebound in 27 minutes. One board, Jermaine? Really?! To put that into perspective, Brian Cardinal -- yes, that Brian Cardinal -- grabbed 10 rebounds in 16 minutes as part of 49-24 Minnesota's 49-24 rebounding advantage. And then there was The Drain's in-game injury: "[O'Neal] sustained a right eye injury in the third quarter and missed 13 minutes before returning late." Yeah, it was a freak accident. But for a guy who couldn't say healthy if you locked him in a plastic bubble...not too surprising, either. Said The Drain: "I would not have scripted this for my first game. Absolutely not."
The Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade had his routinely spectacular game -- 37 points, 12 assists, 4 steals, only 1 turnover -- but the Heat lost at home to the Al Jefferson-less Timberwolves. The reasons included poor rebounding (as described above), bad defense (Minny shot almost 54 percent) and an inability to stop Sebastian Telfair, who had a career-high 30 points and 8 assists. Said Wade: "It's a terrible loss." And that's a terrible understatement.
Kevin McHale (via Sebastian Telfair), quote machine: After the game, Telfiar described McHale's pregame motivational speech: "He asked us if we were going to be pros or punks. We decided to be pros." Can you imagine McHale, who looks like an elderly Herman Munster, asking a bunch of young ball players if they want to be punks? That's comedy.
The Philadelphia 76ers: What happened to the run? What happened to the fun? The previous night's road loss to the Pacers was followed up by a double-digit home loss to the Nuggets. Philly shot only 32 percent and missed 10 free throws. And you know who hurt the Sixers the most...?
Andre Iguodala:The Sixers were recently "re-Branded" Iggy's team. Last night, fouled out after only 27 minutes during which he scored 10 points (1-for-6), matched Jermaine O'Neals rebounding effort for the Heat and committed 3 turnovers. Way to lead by example, Andre. Assuming you're leading your team to Failsville.
The Orlando Magic: You know what hurts? I'll tell you: 32-point losses in which a team shoots 37 percent while "limiting" their opponent to just under 60 percent accuracy. And the 16 missed free throws? Salt in the gooey wound. Oh, and you can squirt some lemon juice on it too, since Dwight Howard's double-double streak was stuffed and mounted. And yes, I realize I stat cursed him yesterday. My bad. But in all fairness, Stan Van Gundy sat him when the game got out of hand. He would have gotten those extra two rebounds if he'd played more than 29 minutes.
Stan Van Gundy, excuse machine: Chris Paul sliced and diced the Magic for 36 points (14-for-22), 6 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals. And apparently, beyond the numbers, he also caused Orlando's entire roster to forget how to play the game of basketball. Said Stan the Man: "It was one of those nights a player just obliterated us. You can complain about your defense all you want, but sometimes great players just make you look worse than you are." Sorry, Stan. Paul didn't make your team look bad. He just held up the mirror.
P.S. The Magic need Jameer Nelson back. Badly.
The Milwaukee Bucks: If you were going to guess that someone on the Bulls beat the Bucks with a season-high 31 points that included an 18-point fourth-quarter explosion, you'd probably assume it was Ben Gordon, Derrick Rose or even Luol Deng. But nope: It was Kirk Hinrich, who shot 8-for-14 from the field, 5-for-6 from downtown and 10-for-10 from the line. He also had 4 steals, two of which came on back-to-back possessions during a crucial stretch in the final period after Milwaukee had pulled to within three points. Kirk went the other way for a layup after the first steal, hit a triple after the second, and then hit a jumper the next time Chicago had the ball to put the Bulls up by 10. That was the game-breaker. So, to sum up: Milwaukee was owned by Captain Kirk Hinrich. Said Bucks coach Scott Skiles: "Kirk had a great game, obviously shooting the ball and scoring. He just took our guards and made us look pretty silly on several occasions because he was playing so hard." Substitute "silly" for "sad," and you're right on the mark, Scott.
The New Jersey Nets: They were blasted by the Mavericks and Jason Kidd (23 points, 7-for-10, 10 assists) made Mark Cuban look like a genuis...for a night. Kidd also hit five of his six three-pointers, whereas Devin Harris, Kidd's All-Star replacement in New Jersey, missed all six of his triples and shot 5-for-18 overall (and he had a game-high 4 turnovers). When you get beaten, and soundly, because of Jason Kidd's SHOOTING, well, it's time to start putting hands in people's faces. Sidenote: Vince Carter scored 15 points on 21 shots and had a plus-minus score of -19.
The Sacramento Kings: J-Kidd wasn't the only player to have a revenge game last night. Mike Bibby tormented his old team by scoring 29 points on 10-for-19 shooting and going number two in the visitors locker room without flushing the toilet. Sacto now has the NBA's worst record at 11-44. But hey, at least they have Andres Nocioni and his giant contract that runs through, what, 2017?
Kevin Martin, "I know who that guys is" machine: Regarding Bibster's performance: "Bibby was Bibby tonight." True. But who knows? Maybe tonight he'll be Juan, the naughty cabana boy...
Portland Trail Blazer fans: Get this: They booed Darius Miles last night, presumably because he cost them all that cap room by, you know, getting healthy and resuming a career that the Blazers tried to prevent him from resuming. What a bastard. Said Miles: "I got booed when I had a Portland jersey on. It's not the first time I’ve heard them."
Greg Oden: Okay. It's official. The Blazers should have taken Durant.
The Los Angeles Clippers: Okay, the Clippers are a joke. We know that. But damn: They gave up 140 points for the second night in a row to the same team, only this time it happened at home. In professional wrestling terms, that makes them a jobber. What, does Mike Dunleavy Sr. have some stake in keeping Amare Stoudemire in Phoenix? Not only did his team make Steve Kerr look like a genius for firing Terry Porter and putting Alvin Gentry in charge, they pretty much killed any possibility that the Suns will deal STAT. Amare scored 41 points on 15-for-20 shooting, and 29 of those came in the first half. The Suns shot almost 60 percent and commmited only 7 turnovers. Oh, and Goran Dragic dunked on them AGAIN (on his way to scoring 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting). Way to be a bunch of shooting props, Clippers.
Mike Dunleavy, quote machine: Thanks to Clifton for providing this one: "Camby, who had his ear drained Wednesday, is awaiting work on whether he'll get medical clearance to fly to Portland for the Sunday's game. 'We're inventing new ways to get hurt,' Dunleavy said. 'I mean, in the annals of the league, what's the percentages of one of your players flying on an airplane and his ear drum caves in? I mean, it's like, what other kind of injury can happen?'" Wow. I hope he knocked on some wood when he said that. As Clifton put it: "Ohhhhh. Stat curse, Señor Dunleavy. I'm calling it. How wacky can we go? Frostbite from a freak liquid-nitrogen accident? Critically infected papercut on the tongue from licking an envelope longways instead of up-and-down? Or will they just start listing 'apathy' as a documented reason for missing games?"
The Golden State Warriors: They led against the Lakers for most of the game, and could have won with only a few defensive stops in the final minutes. Defensive stops? The Warriors?! Bwahahahahaha! Yeah. L.A. went on a late 17-3 run that began with back-to-back threes by Trevor Ariza, who padded his stats by scoring 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Said Ariza: "I just hit open shots, that was it. The ball came to me, and I had nothing but time, so it was like playing in practice." That's the Warriors' D for you: It's like playing in practice.
Lacktion report:Chris came here to report lacktion and chew bubble gum. And he's all out of bubble gum.
Nuggets-Sixers: Renaldo Balkman gave Denver a 1.7 trillion payday!
Pacers-Bobcats: Juwan Howard pressed "Start" on his bawful evening with a 37-second Mario for Larry Brown.
Grizzlies-Blazers: Greg Buckner may have gone against form with three lacktion-ruining boards, but luckily Marko Jaric saved the day as a substitute lacktator, bricking twice for a suck differential of +2 in 4:04.
Hawks-Kings: The statline difference between sometimes-lacktator Acie Law and THE Mario West shows why one Hawk will be on a first-name basis for years, while the other needed a failed bet to get on the news. Law laid down a brick, but then handcuffed himself with an assist, while Mr. West once again dusted off a cartridge with his namesake stat, a 12 second Mario that somehow included a foul!
Lakers-Warriors: Don Nelson had Jermareo Davidson stomp a Goomba tonight with a single-brick 40-second Mario.
Tom Ziller, quote machine:Mr. Ziller recently had this to say about our intrepid lacktion reporter: "That Chris guy is hilarious. I didn't know we had funny people in Sacramento. Send my thumbs up."
Siohvaughn Wade: Pookie is suing his ex-wife for defamation after she claimed he cheated on her and gave her an STD. You can't make this stuff up.
Rick Adelman: Adelman got upset at Knee-Mac for not informing the team of his decision to shut down for the season and get microfracture surgery for his achy-breaky knee before he went to the media. Said Rick: "There should be a protocol, there should be a procedure where we have a chance to sit down and talk about the situation and not be announced in the press. I don't know why that happened, why he did that. Certainly, that is not the way things should be handled." True. But then, the Rockets probably should have noticed that their was something worse than "general soreness" going on with McGrady's knee for the past several months. They told him he just had to play his knee back to health. Whoops.
Stuart Scott: I got the following email from Basketbawful reader William:
This didn't happen on the court, but I think it qualifies for a "Worst of." Background, I'm a C's fan, watching the Hornets-Magic game on ESPN. At halftime Stuart Scott tosses out this gem:
"Here's another reason why Boston might need to make a trade, because last year they had the best record in the East, and it took them seven games to beat Cleveland. Right now, the Cavaliers have the best record in the East. And they are running away with the East."
Last time I checked the standings (which was after the Cav's win tonight) they looked like this: Boston 44-11, Cleveland 41-11.
I know everyone hates the Celtics, but is it really fair to just flat-out lie about the standings? Or is he just too lazy to check said standings? Being behind by three in the win column is not 'running away with the East.' And can we please drop the 'seven games' bull? Yes, the Cavs took us to a decisive seventh game. The Hawks did too. That is not an accomplishment. Getting a ring is an accomplishment.
Penn State versus Illinois: This is a real final score: Penn St. 38, Illinois 33. Dear God. And Rush the Court pointed out that: "...as ESPN’s copy editors put it, Penn St. powered past Illinois." I'm getting cold chills. Not the good kind, either. (Thanks to Dan B. for the head's up.)