If you're going to rip off Sam-I-Am's "big balls" dance,
you'd better make damn sure you win the game...
The Philadelphia 76ers: The NBA schedule is, by and large, a cruel and tempestuous mistress (much like Khloe Kardashian), but every once in a while, it provides an unexpected gift. The Sixers got one last night: A home court matchup with the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics for the chance to hop back over the .500 mark. It was a golden opportunity versus a severely weakened conference rival...so of course the Sixers wasted it.
Philly's scrambling defense forced its fair share of turnovers (21 for 30 points), but their hands were apparently too busy swiping at the ball to get in anybody's face (Boston shot just a shade under 54 percent for the game). And the Sixers -- the supposed running team in this contest -- finished with fewer fast break points (12) than the Celtics (15). Ray Allen was 5-for-7 in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer that tied the game at 97 with 37 seconds left and another that won the game with 0.5 ticks to go...despite suffering from flu-like symptoms!
And on that last play, the Sixers committed one of the classic blunders, the first of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: When you're up by two and your opponent has the final shot, no matter what, DO NOT GIVE UP THE THREE. Even pickup ballers know this. Philadelphia was so concerned about Paul Pierce's penetration that they collapsed into the paint and lost Allen. How could they let Ray freaking Allen, one of the best three-point marksmen in league history, slip behind the arc unattended for a wide-open shot? If they were going to do that, why bother playing defense at all?
Andre Iguodala: Sam Cassell invented was the first NBA player to steal the "I have big balls" dance from Major League II (apparently). That's common knowledge. The fact that other NBA players are copying it -- even Kobe Bryant! -- is just silly. Look, I know it's super cool and everything, but it's Sam's thing. Mr. T has defined awesome for two generations of men, but do you see dudes walking around with two metric tons worth of gold chains wrapped around their necks? No. Because it's a signature T-ism. Well, that and no other human neck could support the crushing weight. But my point is: Don't do it. It's embarrassing and, potentially, a stat curse. Know what happened after Kobe did it? The Lakers lost on an improbable shot in the closing seconds. And after Iggy did it? Same thing.
The moral of this story: Only Sam Cassell gets to do the "I have big balls" dance.
Doc Rivers, inexplicable quote machine: Regarding Kevin Garnett: "He smells things 75 percent of the league can't." We finally know the secret to KG's success...super olfactory senses!
The Toronto Craptors: It's not even that they can't win, it's that they can't even keep their games competitive. After two straight double-digit home losses (to the Bucks and Magic), the Craptors got blown out in the first quarter (37-15) and only got back into the game because the Crabs fell asleep in the third quarter. They woke up in the fourth, though, and won going away, 101-83. Toronto shot 39 percent as a team, 8 percent from downtown (1-for-12), and their starting guards (Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker) combined to hit only 2 of their 16 field goal attempts). I really don't get this team. They have too much talent to be this bad-to-mediocre. Speaking of their talent...
Chris Bosh: He shot 11-for-19 and finished with 29 points, but he grabbed only 3 rebounds -- the same as Calderon and one fewer than Anthony Parker. And he had a fourth-quarter dunk attempt blocked by King Crab himself. Note that Bosh went up one-handed...which caused my inner Hubie Brown to mutter "That's why we tell big men to throw it down with two hands. YOU HAVE TO FORCE THE DEFENDER TO FOUL YOU." Video:
Said Crabs coach Mike Brown: "That caught me off guard. When he came from the weak side and got that block, I was floored. I didn't think there was any way whatsoever that any human being could come from the weak side and contest a shot the way he did. Wow! Wow! Wow!" Really? No human being? I guess Mike never got to watch Hakeem Olajuwon or David Robinson play ball...
The Iniana Pacers: The "D" continues to elude the Pacers in the alphabet soup of their season. Despite a so-so game from Al Jefferson's (12 points on 13 shots) and another DNP-CD for Rashad "I'm a poet but you didn't know it" McCants, the Timberwolves dropped 116 points on the Pacers' home court, outscoring them 38-29 in the fourth to steal the game. In addition to their typical defenselessness, Indy was mortally wounded by two critical free throw misses by T.J. Ford down the stretch. And he entered the game hitting 89 percent of his foul shots. Said Ford: "I definitely let the team down. I had an opportunity more than once to tie the game or take the lead. I just wasn't able to come through in the clutch for my team. I have to sleep on that one tonight." As a Pacers fan, I kind of hope it feels like sleeping on a bed of broken glass and rusty barbed wire. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
By the way, I'm starting to get the feeling that I was wrong about Kevin Love. That dude's pretty darn good, as it turns out. His game has really blossomed under Kevin McHale, who apparently is worlds better as a coach than a GM.
The Milwaukee Bucks M.A.S.H. Unit: No Michael Redd. No Andrew Bogut. Vince Carter's fifth career triple-double (15 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds). A huge double-double from rookie Brook Lopez (22 points, 12 boards). Near perfect marksmanship for Ryan Anderson (7-for-10 for his 19 points). Misdirected shooting from the field (36 percent) and the line (10 misses). Just a big fat fail in virtually every direction.
Scott Skiles, backhanded compliment machine: Regarding his team's failure to hold off the double-rookie onslaught of Lopez and Anderson: "Brook Lopez was obviously very hard for us to handle and Ryan Anderson's offense was a lot of the time behind the three-point line. Nothing against Anderson, but I never thought I would say we got manhandled by him." Nobody expects that, Scott. Or a Spanish Inquisition, for that matter.
Lawrence Frank, unintentionally dirty quote machine: "The thing that was hurting us was their penetration at times."
Vince Carter, "I know who he is" machine: Regarding the return of former Nets teammate Richard Jefferson (who scored 27 points): "R.J. was being R.J."
Joakim Noah: [Gratuitous Plug Alert!] You can get full coverage of the Bulls-Rockets game at By The Horns, but I have to tell you: After seeing him get abused by Al Jefferson and Yao Ming on this road trip, I'm officially nicknaming Noah "The Prop." I mean, it's not his fault he's being forced to defend guys he obviously can't handle. He's trying. He really is. But that doesn't change the fact that he's failing.
The Bulls' interior defense / foul shooting: When guys like Anderson Varejao and Zaza Pachulia keep ending up with season highs against a team, well, you know that team has a problem protecting the paint. Such is the case with these Bulls, who gave up 28 points to Yao Ming (who was limited to 30 minutes due to first-half foul trouble) and a career-high-matching 18 rebounds to Luis Scola. Not to mention 3 backbreaking offensive boards to Carl Landry in the fourth quarter. Plus, Yao's numbers don't tell the story about how his mere presence dominated the game. Vinny Del Negro had no answer, except maybe to duck and cover. Also: The Bulls bonked 11 free throws.
Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas: Knee-Mac walked past Deng and then almost gave Thomas a Spaulding tattoo. Sick.
Personally, I blame Deng. Why the hell was he playing Knee-Mac so closely? Give him space, make him shoot it. That's just bad defense, and it got his teammate in the poster.
Gregg Popovich: WHAAAAA...?! Manu Ginobili sat out with a bruised hip, So Pops decided to give Duncan and Parker the night off too? And I'm not talking about "at the hotel getting treatment" or "back in San Antonio chilling out." They were there! On the bench! Watching!
Look, I get it. Popovich likes to keep his horses rested and healthy. They're on an extended road trip and they'd gone to overtime against the Warriors the previous night. But man, what a crazy random happenstance.
The Denver Nuggets: Facing the Spurs B-Team, which MIGHT finish in the middle of the pack in the NBA's Developmental League, the Nuggets promptly sunk to the occasion and nearly lost the game. The "Spurs" pulled to 98-94 with two minutes left (via a Roger Mason triple), but Carmelo hit a free throw and a jump shot to turn back San Antonio's rally.
Not surprisingly, George Karl was pissed. He called his team "selfish" and accused them of playing down to their competition. "We were fortunate. We still have a tendency in messing around with the game. It's kind of come back in the last couple of weeks. We've still won most of the games but we should have attacked this game with a professional attitude and an intensity, and probably should have gotten the game over by the fourth quarter." He also said: "I do realize in the NBA it is a trait of good teams winning playing bad. Going on a road trip after this performance scares the hell out of me." It should.
Lacktion report: Basketbawful's interpid lacktion beat report Chris once again took some time 0ut to provide our triple-pump of lacktivity.
Raptors-Cavs: Both Nathan Jawai and Jake Voskuhl sat for the Craptors, so in the midst of yet another blowout victory, the responsibility for the evening's non-production solely lay on the Crabs. Darnell Jackson's experience at swimming in the still waters of stasis paid off with a 3.26 trillion, while the newest crustacean, Trey Johnson (previously in Bakersfield's D-League squad), baked a brick for a suck differential of +1 in 2:09. Surprisingly, in 14:10, Anderson Varejao racked up a slight Voskuhl of 6:5 via five fouls and a turnover against three rebounds and one field goal.
Bucks-Nets: The Milwaukee M.A.S.H. Unit apparently recommends sedentary behavior on the hardwood to reduce the chance of injury, which also reduces the likelihood of the contagious condition known as "winning." Joe Alexander needs a cash register next to his bench spot after striking it rich with a full 9.15 trillion! Damon Jones gave himself a slightly smaller gift of 1.8 trillion. Meanwhile, New Jersey's Chris Douglas-Roberts has started to emerge as a late possibility for the All-Lacktion team, tossing a brick and fouling once for +2 in 6:54 of lacktivity.
Bulls-Rockets: Joakim Noah started off slowly and stayed asleep for a full 17:33 at the Toyota Center, giving the Bulls a devestating Voskuhl of 7:3 by fouling out and handing the rock to his opponents twice, against one made shot and one rebound. He was especially burned by Yao Ming, who drew two quick fouls on him in the opening frame (forcing Vinny Del Negro to switch him out with Aaron Gray). Yao then punished Noah harder midway in the fourth quarter by both dunking on him and drawing yet another foul for the chance at an ultimately successful charity stripe shot -- a sequence which proved to be great at killing off Chicago's momentum up to that moment, when the Bulls had made it a five-point game!
Christian Bale: You know, I've always dug on Bale. He was Patrick Bateman in American Psycho (one of my all-time favorite movies). And he's Batman! But that four-minute tantrum -- during which he dropped 36 F-bombs -- was ridiculous and embarrassing. Glad to see he's your typical Hollywood prima donna. Oh, wait, it was because he's a method actor? Riiiight. I would have believed that after maybe a minute, minute-and-a-half's worth of F-bombery. Oh well. At least one good thing came out of this: The Bale Out dance mix! Decidedly NSFW.
The Michael Phelps brouhaha: What?! Olympic champion Michael Phelps smoked pot! IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD. Or not. I can't believe the backlash Phelps is getting for this. Particularly since we live in a country whose medical community has recognized marijuana's therapeutic benefits. Hell, Boston has decriminalized possession of small amounts of it! But that's our hypocritical nation. Prostitution is harshly prosecuted all over the place -- I recently read about a sting operation in a Chicago suburb -- but it's legal in certain areas of Nevada and (believe it or not) Rhode Island. Seriously. So smoking pot is wrong unless it's okay. You can't pay someone for sex unless you're someplace where you can.
And then guys like Michael Phelps get demonized for doing something that probably everyone else his age has either already done or considered doing. And now nobody will look at him the same way, and it gives the media a chance to bring up that DUI he had when he was 19. Uh oh! He has a history! What a monster!
Look, Phelps is a dork, and maybe even a bit of a douche. But can you blame him? He's young, he rules his sport with an iron swim cap. He toked. So what? Really. So what?
Kobe Bryant: Mamba filled Luke Walton's locker with gay porn and then, after most of the Lakers had shown up but before Walton had noticed, Kobe loudly drew everybody's attention to it: "Hey everybody, look at that stuff in Luke's locker! I guess we know now why he styles his hair that way..."