The Indiana Pacers: Memo to Jim O'Brien: It's probably best not to coat your players' hands with PAM -- America's favorite cooking spray! -- prior to the game. Case in point: The Pacers committed 22 turnovers (including 14 in the first half) last night. And let's face it: You're not going to beat the red-hot Jazz when you give them 22 extra possessions that lead to 26 bonus points. Said Jarrett Jack: "It's disappointing, mainly because we beat ourselves. We really killed ourselves in the turnover department." I really don't want to know about you beating yourself, Jarrett.
By the way, Troy Murphy continues his hot play. Last night he grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, scored a team-high 23 points, set a Pacers franchise record for defensive rebounds in a season (605) and nearly tied a franchise records for most three-pointers in a game with 7 (Reggie Miller holds the record with 8 threes in a game, something he did twice.) Murph's been playing well all season, but he really picked up his game after Danny Granger went down. In that 10-game stretch, Troy has scored 20+ points six times (and 19 once) and hasn't had a game in which he failed to reach double-digits in rebounds (including one 21-board outing). So, uh, where are all those people who mocked me for bragging Murph up a few weeks ago?
The Milwaukee M.A.S.H. Unit: The Knicks arrived in Milwaukee having won only 7 games on the road this season. The Bucks, who are in the midst of a six-game home stand, needed to win this game to hold onto the eight spot in the East. And if they'd only contained Larry Hughes, they probably would have done it. But, alas, they could not contain Big Shot Larry, who scored a season-high 39 points on 13-for-20 shooting (including 5-for-8 from downtown). Said Charlie Bell: "Everything he threw up at the basket -- hand in his face, wide open -- he was making everything. You've got to give credit where credit is due." No, I don't. This is Larry Hughes were talking about.
Anyway, Bell added: "We didn't play like we wanted to be in the playoffs. There's a lot of games left, but if we don't turn it up, we're going to be on the outside looking." You mean like you are right now? Get used to that feeling, Charlie.
Richard Jefferson: With Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut out, Jefferson should be the Bucks best remaining player. On paper, anyway. Last night he shot a Larry Hughes-like 3-for-16. (Are we sure their wasn't a mind-swap before the game?) When you're the team's go-to guy, it's usually a bad sign when you have more turnovers (5) than made field goals.
The Knicks' butter fingers: They somehow managed to pull out a rare road victory despite 22 turnovers, 7 of which slipped through the fingers of Nate Robinson.
Speaking of the Knicks, Basketbawful reader Brendan P. wrote in to say: "Is New York where NBA Center's go to die? Last year the Knicks, as a team, recorded 213 blocks, good for ninth worst of all time. With Renaldo Balkman leading the way with 30 and 'centers' David Lee and Eddy Curry tied for second with 29 each. Josh Smith and Marcus Camby had more blocks by themselves that season!! They also own 5 of the worst 10 blocking seasons since 2000-2001. How the hell is this possible?!" I did some checking and the Knicks are once again last in the league in that category, stuffing a mere 2.3 shots per contest. They have 146 blocks on the season...which means they'll have to swat 67 attempts in their final 19 games just to tie last season's mark. That breaks down to 3.5 BPG, or 1.2 BPG above their current average. Not gonna happen, methinks.
But wait, there's more! The all-time worst total is 169, set by the 1998-99 Chicago Bulls. Second worst is 193, set by the 1998-99 Washington Wizards. The Knicks are on pace to fall between those two teams with 189. But here's the thing: Both of those records were set in the lockout-shortened 50-game season. So no matter what the Knicks do, it looks like they're going to set an all-time worst for an 82-game season. I'll be keeping an eye on this...
The Phoenix Suns: Last night's home loss to the Mavericks -- who themselves hadn't won a road game since February 2nd -- was a veritable dagger in the heart of their playoff hopes. They now trail Dallas by 5 games in the race to be put out in the first round by the Lakers. And, according to John Hollinger's playoff odds, they have a 28.8 percent chance to stumble into the postseason. I'm not an ESPN-accredited mathemologist, but shouldn't that number be closer to zero? Anyway, it's a bad sign when a team shoots 55 percent and commits only 10 turnovers at home in what was pretty much a must-win game and loses anyway. Of course, I'm eyeballing the 9 missed free throws and comparing them to the 5-point final margin. Note that The Big I Make Them When They Count went 3-for-7 from the line. Memo to Shaq: THOSE COUNTED.
Watching this one, I couldn't help but wonder whether things would have gone any differently for the Suns as of late if Amare had been around. They've lost a lot of close games lately: By 6 at Miami, by 4 at Houston, by 5 at San Antonio and by 5 last night. But the thing is, their offense has been as potent as ever. It's their defense that has been dooming them. And, frankly, I can't see Amare having an impact on the defensive end. But who knows?
The Sacramento Kings: Facing the still Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder at home, the Kings promptly sunk to the occasion, committing 24 turnovers that led to 21 bonus points for their foes. It was OKC's fifth road win of the season. I guess the Kings just love giving! Despite the fact that Kevin Martin missed the final 15 minutes of the game with a sprained ankle, Sacramento still had a chance to tie the score with 5 ticks left. But Andres Nocioni shot an airball despite being wide open. Thabo Sefolosha was fouled and hit both foul shots, but Rashad McCants nailed a triple with 1.2 seconds left. Jeff Green threw the ball away, which gave the Kings possession and a chance for a miracle finish...but of course their final half-court lob hit nothing but the floor. Said Bobby Jackson: "We did a lot of good things, but we did a lot of bad things, too. We had a lot of turnovers, forced turnovers. We were throwing the ball and not taking out time. If we didn't have those 22 turnovers, we definitely would have won the game." Whatever. At 14-50, they once again have the league's worst record.
The Los Angeles Clippers: 19 points. The Clippers led by 19 points in the fourth quarter. At home. But hark, dear readers! I have told you over and over that they are who we thought they were, and the truthiness of that statement was scientifically proven last night as the Clips got outscored 35-16 in the final period and lost 87-83. That there's the textbook definition of "fourth quarter collapse." Yeah, yeah, I know LeBron crab-dribbled his way to a triple-double (32 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists). But still...19-point fourth-quarter leads are pretty tough to lose. Unless your the Clippers AND you're being coached by Mike Dunleavy Sr. That's like chasing a shot of kerosene with Drain-O.
This game ends for the Clippers the way it begins — with a Zach Randolph airball from 27 feet. What do the Clippers want, down two points with a hair over six seconds remaining? According to Mike Dunleavy, "We ran a side out-of-bounds play to try to get the ball into Baron." That appears to be the intent: Baron starts along the baseline, with Randolph, Novak, and Thornton in a sort of line set across the stripe. Al, who’s farthest from the inbounder [Gordon], runs to the front side around Randolph/Varejao and Novak/Pavlovic. Meanwhile, Baron sprints up from down low, trying to shake loose of LeBron around the Randolph/Noak stack. Baron tries to split them, but the whole ordeal is clumsy -- LeBron actually beats Baron around the screens, making any attempted inbounds pass to Baron impossible. Eric is stuck. He could go to Thornton on the near side wing, but Williams -- who’s guarding him -- has cut off that angle. Finally, Randolph steps toward the sideline to receive the ball from Gordon. When he does, Eric steps onto the court and asks for it back, only Randolph never looks at him. Never looks at anyone. With the court spread, there’s an nanosecond when you believe Zach might just want to take Varejao off the dribble, but that notion dissolves pretty quickly. Instead, Randolph takes a couple of dribbles, then elevates to launch the shot with exactly 5.0 seconds left. His teammates are perplexed. Al Thornton drops his arms, then after the whistle is blown, looks back as if to confirm he saw what he thinks he saw, then turns around in disgust. Baron looks angry and Eric bemused. 1.6 seconds remain. When Cleveland inbounds the ball, Mo Williams is fouled with 0.00.6, and sinks both FTs, which ices the game.
Zach Randolph: Is he the Devil? Or just the prototypical Clipper? Discuss.
Baron Davis: From the AP recap: "An unofficial stat the Cavaliers have been keeping this season on James is chasedowns -- breakaway layups by opposing players that James hustles upcourt to swat away from behind at the last instant. James recorded his 17th such rejection, denying Baron Davis with 6:49 left in the first quarter after Davis intercepted his errant pass and bolted with it." Ego-ectomy. You want video? We got video:
Fred Jones: This will, of course, be noted in the lacktion report, but Freddy logged over 14 minutes of daylight and contributed...one missed shot. Period. That's it. I'm not sure what irks me the most: That he was so lacktive -- 6:15 of his PT occurred during The Other L.A. Team's horrific fourth quarter -- or the fact that his one lonely field goal attempt robbed us of the first recorded 14 trillion.
Lacktion report: The search for lacktion, via chris, continues...
Jazz-Pacers: Jerry Sloan seems to like mixing up his lacktion choices, as Jarron Collins, Ronnie Price, and Kyrylo Fesenko have remained in their warmups in recent games. Instead, Sloan has molded Matt Harpring his fourth option for lacktivity, filling his 4:43 of floor time with two bricks, a turnover, and a block against to string up a +4 suck differential.
Bobcats-Spurs: Charlotte's Sean May milled a brick for a +1 in 1:16, but the real story had to be the most overpaid bench player in some time, $3 million-a-year Fabricio "Oh Boy!" Oberto. Gregg Popovich apparently wants to have a gold-plated Excite Bike cartridge in his possession as Oberto spent only TWO SECONDS on the floor for a Super Mario! Somehow, Oberto was able to miss from downtown in such a brief segment of 8-bit harmony.
Mavs-Suns: Dallas' James Singleton earned two fouls for a +2 in 2:28, while the Suns have gotten themselves a bit richer in their run away from a playoff spot, as Jared Dudley brought home a 1.85 trillion fortune. His wealth-seeking performance came alongside Gord Dragic's melodramatic +2 in 4:29 via brick and giveaway.
Cavs-Clippers: In front of a sellout crowd -- the first one this year that didn't involve their de facto landlords at Staples, the Lakers -- the Clips prepared the human victory cigars as they had boiled the Crabs in the first three quarters by a shocking score of 67-52. Yes, a fifteen-point lead. And they were able to extend it to a nineteen-point advantage in the fourth!
So Mike Dunleavy spared no time in rummaging Donald Sterling's bargain bin for old Gamecube CDs, as Mardy Collins earned a SUPER MARIO of a mere 8 seconds! (He also racked up a suck differential of +2 via one foul and a brick from downtown.) Then he had Fred Jones spend 14:09 on the court, which was enough for a +1 suck differential via a missed three of his own.
And just as the Angelenos were preparing for a seafood dinner...the crustaceans snapped back with a 35-16 run in the 4th quarter to win by four, with Los Angeles's other team not even reaching 90 points! Seems like Dunleavy and Sterling channeled Jack Kent Cooke and had an L.A. basketball team celebrate a little too early, allowing the Eastern Conference team they were hosting to take the victory instead! Failtacular!
Kobe Bryant: Mamba filled Adam Morrison's shoes with whipped cream and thumb tacks -- again while Adam was watching -- and then Kobe made him practice in them.