The Phoenix Suns: If there was a real-life roller coaster -- let's call it the Sarver Dream Killer -- that was as up-and-down as this Phoenix team, it would boast a 100 percent vomit-inducement rate. Which, somewhat ironically, is the same vomit-inducement rate the Suns currently have among their fans. To wit: Sunday's hope-lifting win in Detroit was followed up by one of their signature (these days) embarrassing defeats in Philadelphia. The Suns hit only 42 percent of their field goals as Steve Nash (2 points on 1-for-8) and Shaq (7 points on 3-for-7) showed why it's risky to use them in back-to-back games. They also committed 18 turnovers -- Philly's defensive bread and butter -- which allowed the Sixers to get out in transition (19 fast break points) and outscore the Suns 25-13 in points off of TOs. Phoenix was also mandangled on the boards: The Sixers outrebounded them 54-41 and pulled 22 ricochets on the offensive end. So basically...they were outplayed in every phase of the game. Unless "Most Failed Expectations" counts as a phase.
Amare Stoudemire: One of the storylines of this game was how STAT bravely shrugged off those pesky trade rumors to lead the Suns in scoring (19 points on 7-for-13 shooting plus 6 boards). He also added a game-high 3 blocked shots. Not bad. But -- and you knew there was a "but" coming, right? -- he was pretty thoroughly outplayed by Marreese Speights, who had a career-high 24 points (11-for-14) in only 24 minutes of action. Amare, meanwhile, was outrebounded by both Speights (7) and Andre Miller (9 in 27 minutes) despite the fact that he played a game-high 39 minutes. And for those of you who might be blaming Stoudemire's lack of board work on Shaq, The Big Creaky logged only 21 minutes of PT. Who was stealing Amare's boards while Shaq was decomposing on the bench?
The Los Angeles Clippers: In other "They Are Who We Thought They Were" news, the Clippers were beaten by 21 in Charlotte. But that's to be expected, what with all the inju...wait, what? Baron Davis, Marcus Camby and Zach Randolph are all back? And Z-Bo went for 20 points, 10 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals? Okay then, I guess Mike Dunleavy Sr. needs some new excuses. Maybe the team's circadian rhythms were off? That used to be a favorite of Phil Jackson. But here was Camby's spin: "The last game of a trip, I've been around a long time, I know how these games can be tough. Especially right before the All-Star break, you tend to lose a little focus. Your mind is elsewhere." Oh, gee, Marcus, I sure hope that stupid basketball game didn't get in the way of your daydreaming. (FWIW: Camby is on the payroll for $8 million this season. That's not an attention-grabber? I sure bet he'd notice if his paycheck was direct-deposited.)
The fourth quarter was an epic example of Clipper futility, as The Other L.A. Team got gunned down by Vladimir Radmanovic's trio of triples en route to getting outscored 29-12 over those final 12 minutes. The rest of the stats were classic Clippers as well: 39 percent shooting, 13 missed three-pointers, 7 bonked free throws, 18 turnovers and a measely 73 points scored. Oh, and did I mention that the Bobcats laid this smack down without Gerald Wallace (rib, lung) and Raja Bell (groin)? Well, they did.
Juwan Howard: Huh? The 'Cats were missing Nook, too? Why was he...a "sore toe" flared up after Sunday's loss to Miami?! Reminds me of a word that rhymes with "mangina." I think it's...mangina.
The Houston Rockets: They were facing the Milwaukee M.A.S.H. unit, a team that was missing Michael Redd (knee), Andrew Bogut (back) and Luke Ridnour (thumb). Didn't matter. They got burned by Ramon Sessions (26 points, 8-for-12, 7 assists) and Charlie Villanueva (25 points, 9-for-18, 8 rebounds). The Rockets, supposedly a top-notch defensive team, let the M.A.S.H. unit hit rack up 31 assists on 47 field goals. Speaking of field goals, Milwaukee hit 53 percent of theirs, and 50 percent of their threes. And Houston forced only 7 turnovers. Said Knee-Mac: "Right now, we're just a team that doesn't know how to play defense." Well said! Speaking of McGrady...
Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming: Knee-Mac shot 1-for-9 and had just as many fouls as points (3). McGrady is 4-of-19 for 10 points in two games against the Bucks this season. Meanwhile, Shaquie Chan was limited to only 18 minutes of daylight due to foul trouble and finished with 7 points on 2-for-8 shooting.
The New Orleans Hornets: No Chris Paul. No David West. No Tyson Chandler. And, dear merciful Odin, no hope. The key stat here is this: 29 percent shooting (26-for-88). But here's what's even crazier -- like "bag of snapping monkey heads" crazy -- the Grizzlies also held the Craptors to 29 percent shooting last Saturday. [Gratuitous Stat Alert!!] That was the first two-game stretch of holding opponents under 30 percent shooting since 1959. By the Grizzlies! Here's the scoop: "According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first time in more than 49 years that a team has held consecutive opponents under 30 percent shooting from the field. The last time was December 19-20, 1959, when the then-St. Louis Hawks held Philadelphia to 26.9 percent and Detroit to 29.9 the next night." So, congrats, Hornets. That's some pretty historic fail, right there.
I should also mention the Grizzlies' utter domination of the boards: 64-38. That included 20 offensive rebounds for Memphis, which led to a 23-8 edge in second-chance points. I'll have to check with a stats guru like John Hollinger to be sure, but I would think that was a pretty big factor in a 5-point loss.
David West: Here's a belated WotN for the missing David West, who got suspended for this:
The Memphis Grizzlies: Better file this under "Wins That Aren't As Good As Others." They were playing at home against a team that was missing its top three players and apparently forgot what a basket looks like...and they barely won! Plus, check out the stats: 36 percent shooting, 3-for-15 from beyond the arc, 9 missed free throws, 18 turnovers, 85 points scored. I'm not going to label them the worst winning team of all time. Not after reading about how crappy teams were in the 50s, anyway. Update! An anonymous commenter reminded me of something I should have noted: "To be fair, the Grizzlies were without two starters in that game as well, with Rudy Gay out injured and Darrell Arthur on a leave of absence due to the passing of his grandmother." Fair enough. Sucking excused.
Lacktion report: There's no rest for the wicked around here, nor is there any respite for Chris from another night of intense lactivity.
Bobcats-Clippers: The Donald Sterling "Basketball" Playset is only equipped to resemble a sports team, not actually play the role of one. This unavoidable fact once again made itself clear with a blowout loss in Charlotte, where Chiekh Samb silently secured a 1.2 trillion fortune, a take large enough that he probably could buy his very own collection of basketball action figures to mismanage and neglect.
The home team didn't disappoint either in giving its lacktators enough garbage time to avoid positive additions to their stat lines, as Bobcats "power" forward Sean May kept the lights off with a suck differential of +2 in 6:21 via foul and brick, while Sean Singletary fouled once for +1 in 1:59.
Sixers-Suns: Robin Lopez makes an appearance in the ledger with one foul for +1 in a snooze-inducing 6:23 for the Suns; Philly's Kareem Rush bricked twice (once from downtown) for +2 in 3:37. Lopez's singular foul was enough to grant him a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl! Memo to Mareese Speights: Dunking over Mr. Lopez doesn't change your "underated" status one bit.
Rockets-Bucks: When the Rockets called Dikembe Mutombo to rejoin them after his early-season hibernation/mummification, I suspect he wasn't signed to help Clutch the Bear install a new Wii in the Toyota Center locker room -- but a 36-second Mario suggests otherwise! That is, a Mario according to Yahoo's box score at least -- as no other source is entirely sure of the magnitude of Mutombo's non-contribution this evening. As of 9:45 PM PST, CBS Sportsline's box score claims he didn't even show up on the court, while ESPN credits him with a 5 trillion.
The NBA and Geico: I know this is a few days late, but...it was so cool when the NBA announced a H-O-R-S-E competition for All-Star weekend. But all that coolness, and then some, got flushed down David Stern's crapper upon the following announcement: The contestants will be playing G-E-I-C-O instead. Wow. That's so stupid that, well, even a caveman wouldn't do it. Look, I understand the whole corporate sponsorship thing, so I would have expected it to be named "The Geico H-O-R-S-E Shootout" or whatever. But come on, NBA and Geico. What's next? Changing the name of the All-Star Game to the AutoTrader.com Game? Yeesh. I wish that a feminine hygiene product company had bought the rights and the ballers were forced to play T-A-M-P-A-X. Maybe that would have gotten the point across.
Kobe Bryant: Mamba used a black Sharpie to write "anime porn collection -- schoolgirl Yumi and little baby Kiki's adventure" on a blank CD. The next time Kobe passed Luke Walton in the crowded Lakers locker room, he bumped into Luke and dropped the CD. He quickly picked it up and said, "Luke, you dropped your...WHAT IS THIS STUFF? OH MY GOD?!" Derek Fisher hasn't talked to Luke since.