The official 2008-09 Sacramento Kings defeat stock photo.
Thanks to Dan B. for sending in the pic.
Mindless violence: By now, most of you already know what happened to Carl Landry, but here's a quick recap in case you don't: Landry's car was sideswiped and then struck by another car. When Carl got out to inspect the damage, two men confronted him and one of them shot at him. Twice. Fortunately, he was only grazed on the left calf -- 'tis but a flesh wound! -- and so he should only miss one to three weeks of action. Look, I get the whole road rage thing. As a Chicago driver, I can't tell you how many times I've fantasized about shooting (or hanging, or electrocuting, or dropping a giant anvil on) some dude or dudette that just cut me off, but that's where it ends: In fantasy. By the way, quick quiz: Biggest douchebags on the road, BMW drivers or Mercedes drivers? Discuss.
The Sacramento Kings: After three straight near misses against the Thunder (99-98), Crabs (126-123) and Wizards Generals (106-104), Sacramento reverted to form and lost by 22 in Atlanta. Using a hybrid defensive style based on the systems employed by Doug Moe, Paul Westhead, Don Nelson and Mike D'Antoni, the Kings managed to give up 119 points on nearly 56 percent shooting. If the Hawks hadn't gotten a little careless with the ball -- they committed 19 turnovers for 29 points going the other way -- the Sactowners might have lost by 40. The defeat dropped them to 0-27 against Eastern Conference teams and 4-30 on the road this season. Said Kevin Martin: "We stopped playing together tonight, and this is happens when you play selfish basketball."
More telling, though, was this quote from Josh Smith: "We didn't want to lose to a team like Sacramento. No offense to them, but (after) beating New Orleans and Utah, teams who are on top of the Western Conference, we didn't want to let ourselves down by losing this game." Ouch.
Joe Johnson: Considering how ridiculously hot the Hawks were last night -- not to mention the fact that they were playing a patsy -- it's hard to fathom how Joe Cool shot 8-for-21 and finished with more turnovers (6) than rebounds (4) or assists (5). Maybe he didn't get a hug before the game.
Home cookin': Okay, so the Magic-Crabs game was pretty awesome and pretty intense. Too bad some lousy officiating spoiled the ending. LeBron had just put the Crabs up 95-93 with a clutch three-pointer -- in front of the Orlando bench, no less -- but the Magic were denied a chance to tie it up when Dwight Howard was called for...a three-second violation. Cleveland ball with 30 seconds left on the clock. Still, not all hope was lost for the Magic, assuming they could get a defensive stop. Of course, they did not: James was "fouled" while shooting by Courtney Lee. King Crab calmly sunk the two freebies, which pretty much sealed the deal.
And, of course, you just KNEW that Stan Van Gundy was going to have something to say about that three-second call after the game: "You won't see that call again. That, I guarantee you. You will not see, with the game on the line, a three-second call in the last 10 seconds. That's part of the reason they're 30-1 at home. They're a very good team, and when you get calls like that (expletive), you're in pretty good shape." Hey, that call was made in the last 30 seconds, not the last 10, Stan. See, this is why I hate frontrunners...
All kidding aside, Superman also spoke out against the black-and-white striped Kryptonite: "I was very surprised. I was in the lane and I got out. It seemed like their bench or their coaching staff got into the ref's ear about me being in the lane. Instead of letting the refs make the call, I guess the bench made the call."
Rashard Lewis: You know, despite those calls, the Magic had a really solid chance to steal this game. Sadly, Lewis boned it for them. He was second on the team in shot attempts but went 3-for-15, including 0-for-8 from downtown. And lest you think that he had "a" bad game, here's a quote from Ben Q. Rock of the Third Quarter Collapse: "In the last week (four games), he's shot 11-of-46 from the field, including 3-of-27 from three-point range, with all 3 of those makes coming in the same game. He picked the wrong time to enter a shooting slump, because with a normal Lewis, Orlando probably wins this game." Live by the three, die by the three.
Here's a little extra puzzlement from Basketbawful reader CP3 for MVP: "I was just looking at the Magic-Cavs box score in which the Cavs won 97-93. On the Magic's side, Dwight Howard took the least shots out of all the starters with 8. He made 5 of them. Rashard Lewis took 15 shots, almost double what Dwight took, and made 3 (!). Surely you'd go to the arguably best big man in the game a bit more often. The Cavs on the other hand were quite comfortable on their superstars shoulders, as he led the team in minutes, field goal attempts and makes, 3pt makes, free throw makes and attempts, rebounds, assists, turnovers, steals, blocks and points."
The Boston M.A.S.H. Unit: The Celtics were already missing Kevin Garnett, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine. Then they lost Leon Powe (who played only four minutes) after he bruised his right knee in a collision with Ben Gordon. That's five guys missing from the regular rotation, one of whom is the team's defensive lynchpin. Oh, and Ray Allen hyper-extended his right elbow and Rajon Rondo aggravated his ankle injury. Other than that, the Celtics are the picture of health. So in that light -- or should I say growing darkness -- it's not too surprising that Boston's defense utterly collapsed against the Bulls. Chicago scored 127 points, which is the most given up by the Celtics this season, while shooting 53 percent from the field. John Salmons matched his career-high by scoring 38 on 14-for-20 shooting. And down the stretch, the Bulls got a key offensive rebound (by Brad Miller), a reverse slam (by Salmons), and four layups (by Miller, Salmons and Derrick Rose). That's what typically happens to depleted teams in end-game situations...but that doesn't make it any less bawful.
Doc Rivers: Getting bounced in the last 30 seconds probably didn't help his team. But it wasn't Doc's fault. He was baited into getting tossed. Just ask him: "[Bill Kennedy] stood there and goaded me and goaded me and goaded me and stared at me. Look at the film. I actually walked away. He asked me, 'Where do you want the ball?' And I said, 'Ask them,' talking about our players. That's my right to say that, and I walked away. He stood there and stared me down and stared me down and goaded me until I turned around and said, 'What?' That's when I got thrown out of the game." Yeah, uh, Doc, I watched the game and it kinda sorta looked like there was a lot more talking going on than that. But I'm sure you were complimenting Bill on his shoes or something.
Bill Walker: From Basketbawful reader Mark L: "I was at the Bulls/Celtics game tonight. This seems WotN worthy. Upon entering the game with about 4 minutes left in the 1st quarter, Bill Walker promptly picked up three fouls. Bill goes bye-bye for the rest of the half. He came back in the game with about the same amount of time remaining in the 3rd quarter. He goes ahead and picks up another foul within 20 seconds of entering the game. (He shoulderblocked Brad Miller, then pulled back with the expression of "Oh shit, don't call that please!" all over his face) About a minute after foul numero 4, Bill picks up a technical. How, you may ask? After the whistle blew on a foul, good ol' Billy took it upon himself to try to posterize Brad Miller." Bill's basketball IQ is off the charts. But that's only because the charts don't go low enough to measure it.
The Dallas Mavericks: Richard Hamilton ("aggravated groin problem"), Rasheed Wallace (calf) and Allen Iverson (back) were all out of action. So it's not surprising that Detroit entered the fourth quarter down by 16. The Pistons then outscored the Mavs 37-23 in the final period and nearly stole the game. And this happened in Dallas, by the way. But Dirk Nowitzki was all "What me worry?" after the game: "Hey, stuff happens in this league. We'll take the wins as we can get them." And see, THAT'S the attitude that keeps Dirk from taking over the league. That general sense of This-is-good-enough-ness that just oozes out of him...and the rest of the team, for that matter. Which is why I just don't feel good about the Maverick's chances in the playoffs.
Some other numbers: Dallas outshot Detroit 56.7 percent to 42.4. So why'd they almost allow a monumental comeback? The Pistons crashed the boards for 17 offensive rebounds. It's a little thing we like to call effort.
Me: That Kevin Love sure is tearing sh*t up. He had 17 points (7-for-11) and 19 rebounds against the Spurs last night. You know, I might have been wrong about this guy...
The Washington Wizards Generals: Take a gander at these postgame comments from the Jazz. Deron Williams: "I don't think it was our best effort." Kyle Korver: "I didn't think we played particularly well tonight." Carlos Boozer: "It wasn't the prettiest game. It was a little ugly." Jerry Sloan: "That's one of the things you always have to be concerned about is are the playoffs important enough for you to go after it? We can talk about it all we want, but sometimes our effort doesn't look like that." And mind you, this was after a game in which they held the Wizards Generals to 35 percent shooting, forced 18 turnovers and won by 15. That's how bad Washington is: It feels like an abject failure when a team doesn't beat them by at least 20.
The Los Angeles Lakers: They outshot, outrebounded and out-assisted the Sixers. They just didn't outscore them. Philly overcame a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and Andre Iguodala hit a three-point bomb at the buzzer to steal the Lakers' lunch money.
Okay, technically, Iggy had a hand in his face. But did that look like the kind of intense, game-on-the-line defense you'd expect from a championship contender? And, uh, did I mention that the Lakers had a foul to give? Said Phil Jackson: "I don't know if Trevor fully understood when I said we had a foul to use, because he did not use it. We don't like to use a foul, especially when they catch and shoot. But when you handle the ball -- and he took his time -- then it's time to use it." Whoopsie. Let's not forget, also, that L.A. let Donyell Marshall's corpse come in and nail three critical three-pointers in Philly's fouth-quarter comeback. Oh, and this was a home game for the Lakers. I'm just sayin'.
Kobe Byant: Mamba scored only 11 points and was limited to only 32 minutes of PT due to foul trouble. His other numbers: 5-for-15 from the field, 5 boards, 5 assists, 5 turnovers, 4 fouls and 3 blocked shots against. Random note: Kobe has missed 10 or more shots in 12 of the Lakers' 14 losses.
The Los Angeles Clippers: Let me get this straight. Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman and Zach Randolph are finally all available...and the Clippers are still who we thought they were? Shocking. I could give you some analysis, but let's just say they played like crap and lost, okay? Here's your official postgame quote from Mike Dumbleavy: "A big game from Monta Ellis and I thought their bench killed us. They shot the ball really well; that's what they do. We didn't make them play defense on enough possessions." My favorite part of that quote is the "we didn't make them play defense on enough possessions" part. That's pretty hard to believe when a team attempts 97 shots and 36 free throws. But it's also totally true.
Lacktion report: No McDonald's commercial quotes this time. Just Chris and his continuing brilliant lacktion coverage.
Kings-Hawks: Thomas Gardner tended to his arboretum of awful stats tonight with a downtown-brick suck differential of +1 in 1:44 for Atlanta.
Magic-Cavs: After a recent slump away from his All-Lacktion form, Tarence Kinsey seems to have sharpened his pincers again, at least by ESPN's understanding (which credits him with a Mario of indeterminate length). Yahoo however doesn't seem to think that this seafood-themed non-contribution ever occurred...one of the few times that a boxscore discrepancy has ESPN showing generosity in the name of lacktators everywhere.
Pistons-Mavs: Amir Johnson fouled twice for a +2 in 1:26.
Wizards-Jazz: Ronnie Price was charged with +3 via two giveaways and a foul in 3:18.
Bulls-Celtics: Gabe Pruitt and JR Giddens are fast becoming the lacktion duo for other negative stat chasers to hunt down, as the pair pressed the on button on a sluggish R.O.B. for an eight second stint as Super Mario Brothers! (Oh, and in a sign that the C's were not playing at their best, former trillionaire champion John Salmons was the leading scorer for Chicago. No, really.)
Sixers-Lakers: Theo Ratliff's block in his 4:21 denied him a suck differential, but not a 2:0 Voskuhl after fouls. Meanwhile, DJ Mbenga threw a right hook at a piggybank filled with 1.75 trillion in currency.
Adam Waddell: This is why white guys shouldn't dunk:
Thanks to Evil Ted for the link.
Devin Harris: Only the New Jersey Nets could NOT play but STILL lose big. (Okay, I suppose the Clippers could probably do it too.) It looks as though Harris will be sidelined indefinitely with a sprained left shoulder and strained deltoid muscle. Mind you, the Nets are currently 12th in the East and their playoff odds are looking grim. (A 2.7 percent chance of making the postseason is bad, right?) And Devin, as I like to remind everybody, is the guy who said "We knew we were going to be a playoff team" less than 20 games into the season. Now he won't even be around to try and make it happen. This may very well be one of the most damning stat curses I've seen in recent years.
The anti-Twitter sentiment: From Basketbawful reader dunkside: "Can I get a mention on the WotN for all those criticizing Charlie Villanueva for twittering? I mean really...how is that different from speaking to a teammate about no matter what or taking a piss? He took 2 freakin' minutes to text a message. It's not like he wasn't listening to coach Skiles. He did listen and he also ACTED on what he was being told. He took it upon himself to play better in the second half. He said 'I gotta step up' and he actually did it. And his team won. If I was Skiles, I'd tell him to twitter things like 'I'm gonna pull down 20 boards tonight' or 'I'll block 10 shots' before every game. Whatever gets him motivated. Don't you wish McGrady would have twittered 'I'll get to the 2nd round and not piss my talent away' about 5-6 years ago?"
I more or less agree with you, dunkside, but I also see the larger picture. Charlie used it as motivation. But I'm guessing that if halftime twittering caught on, not just on the Bucks or around the league, there would be lots of guys just screwing around and wasting time/losing focus/whatever. So Skiles had to make an example of Charlie to keep things from potentially getting out of hand. I've read countless stories about players making phone calls or sending texts when they're supposed to be practicing or listening or what have you. Coaches try to cut that stuff out, because most of the time it's a distraction, both for the players and his teammates. The only thing