Dwight Howard: This is a day-late WotN sent in by Jorag: "Hello, I'm sending this picture of Dwight Howard at MSG telling the camera to 'suck it.' I think he's channeling his inner D-Generation X. He knew the camera was on him and smiled right after doing it." To be honest, I wasn't familiar with the suck it gesture and had to look it up on Wikipedia. By the way, I love Wikipedia, I really do. Check out their full list of gestures. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to strut around the office doing "the peacock."
The Oklahoma City Thunder: Their plucky and inspired play sans Kevin Durant and Jeff Green seemed like years ago about midway though the first quarter of their home loss to the Lakers. The Thunder Kittens found themselves on the bad news end of a 17-point deficit (37-20) at the end of the first and were down 62-38 at halftime. And it was more or less "Game Over" at that point. Kobe Bryant didn't even have to put in a Mario's worth of lacktion in the fourth quarter...and Adam Morrison got let out of the doghouse for almost five minutes. Both are bad signs if you're a Lakers opponent.
Note that Kevin Durant "led" Oklahoma City with 24 points on 8-for-20 shooting (including 0-for-6 from downtown), but his team never got any closer than 17 points in the second half. Ironically, his plus-minus score was -24, and yes, that was the worst on the team. I know this was the Lakers and everything, but seriously, this squad was playing better when KD was out with injury. Who knows, maybe their Durant-less hot streak was just one of those quirky Wounded Tiger-type things. But it makes me wonder whether all his high-scoring efforts are really benefiting the team.
Earl Watson:Dig this: "[Thunder coach Scott] Brooks benched Earl Watson, inserting Chucky Atkins as his backup point guard six games ago. Watson hasn't played in any of the six games, including two blowouts in which several reserves have played in the fourth quarter." Wow, is Earl Watson really that bad? He can't even earn a Mario or maybe a trillion in garbage time?
The Detroit Pistons: Don't let the seeming closeness of the final score of their loss to the Derrick Rose-less Bulls -- 99-91 -- fool you for even a second. Chicago was up by 19 points (92-73) with just over six minutes remaining before going to sleep a little bit. Sure, the Pistons were without Rip Hamilton (groin strain), Rasheed Wallace (bum calf) and Allen Iverson (doesn't want to come off the bench), but that's hardly an excuse since the Bulls were missing Rose (bruised wrist), Luol Deng (stress fracture) and Tim Thomas (who was limited to only four minutes due to back spasms), forcing Vinny Del Negro to employ a Mike D'Antoni-like six-man rotation. (Unless you count Lindsey Hunter's brief cameo, which you don't.)
The Pistons have lost five of six -- and that one win was at home against the Clippers -- and they're 7-15 since February 8th. Think about that. Let it sink in. There's no point in denying it any longer: Detroit has become terrible and are in serious jeopardy of dropping to eighth or even (gulp) not making the playoffs at all. But hey, don't get on Joe Dumars' case. Like the Joker said in "The Dark Knight," it's all part of the plan. (Just try not to think about the fact that the Joker's plan totally failed in the end.)
The United Center: Kirk Hinrich stepped in for Derrick Rose and scored a game-high 24 points to go along with a team-high 8 assists. But, believe it or not, the United Center crowd -- what was left of them anyway -- actually booed Captain Kirk during his postgame interview. Seriously. His crime? Bonking a free throw with 17.9 seconds left that would have given the Bulls 100 points and "earned" the fans free grease-soaked Barth Burgers from McDonald's. I guess sometimes surging at the end of the season to possibly make the playoffs just isn't enough. That's what happens when free taco excitement gets out of hand. Fortunately, Hinrich -- who at this point is probably used to getting booed at home -- wasn't rattled. "I have thicker skin than that. Anytime you can get your fans involved like that, it's extra incentive."
(P.S. These are the same "fans" that were chanting "M-V-P!" for Kobe Bryant last Saturday. As always, I'm just sayin'...)
Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley: First they scoffed at Ernie Johnson for suggesting that the Bulls have a favorable schedule down the stretch because it featured eight games at home to only three on the road, proving that they have no idea whatsoever how well the Bulls have been playing at home. The only argument they had was that Chicago was (at the time) a 33-win team and that 33-win teams never have a favorable schedule. And that was it. That was their whole analysis. Look, the Bulls are a different team since they traded for John Salmons and Brad Miller. I would think that NBA "experts" would, I don't know, check into stuff like that. Honestly, I used to love these guys, but man, they've been off this season. Way off.
Speaking of which, you might remember that, back in November, Smith claimed that the Rockets were going to win the title. And he was being completely serious. He's backed off of tht stance for obvious reasons, but he said last night that Houston is "this close" to being a contender and that with Tracy McGrady they would be one already. Seriously, Kenny?!
Monta Ellis: He led the Warriors with 27 points (on 26 shots) but, with his team down one and a chance to win it, his final two shots were a 21-footer with five seconds left and then a running 28-footer at the buzzer. That's the best shot he could have gotten?! Not according to Don Nelson: "I thought Monte could have gotten to the rim, certainly in five seconds get to the rim. But anyways, that was what he chose to do." And by "that" Nellie of course means "chucking up a low-percentage shot under duress." I bet that, after the game, at least a few Warrior fans were silently wishing that the scooter would have killed him last summer.
Corey Maggette: Earlier this season, in a win over the New Orleans Hornets, Bad Porn said: "I think it's a mismatch every time, me personally. Whoever guards me I just think it's a mismatch because I'm just a person that tries to keep a person on their heels and attack them every which way." That quote was the first thing that popped into my head after his 1-for-8 clanker against the Spurs. I bet whoever was guarding him last night thought it was a mismatch too...just not the kind Corey was talking about.
Jamal Crawford: Here's the story behind his latest DNP-CD: "Golden State played again without Jamal Crawford, who missed his fourth straight game in what has become a bizarre subplot with Warriors coach Don Nelson. In the past week, Crawford has been benched, allowed back, and benched himself—all while being perfectly healthy. Nelson doesn't want Crawford back next season and sat him on March 17 in favor of playing youngsters. He wanted Crawford back into the lineup two games later, but Crawford said he wanted more practice time before jumping back in." You wouldn't think there'd be this much drama on a 25-win team. But there you have it. (And anyway, since when has Crawford ever needed practice to chuck up shots? The dude's a human catapult.)
The Houston Rockets: Well, that was a short stay at number two, huh? After a couple days of everybody getting all excited about their Knee-Mac-less rise in the standings, the Rockets got handled by the Jazz, who have sort of become Houston's arch nemesis the last couple years. Utah blocked a season-high 12 shots, stole the ball six times, forced 12 turnovers and held the Rockets to 34 percent shooting. Basically, the treated the Rockets like a chunk of hamburger and just ground them to bits.
Ron Artest: He had 11 rebounds and 7 assists, which are above-average numbers for him. But dear lord, his shooting was beyond dreadful. He scored 13 points on 22 shots. Of his 17 misses, five of them were stuffed by the Jazz. Has anybody registered heyronartestpleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com yet? Because it probably needs to happen. Just, you know, make sure Ron won't be able to track you down.
Pistons-Bulls: Detroits' Walter Sharpe cut out the NES's lockout chip for a 52 second Mario that included a made shot and a board, while Lindsey Hunter put up a brick from the Sears Tower and a foul in 4:51 for a +2 suck differential.
Lakers-Thunder: Adam Morrison threw a piece of masonry for +1 in 4:50 for Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant: Go ahead and add "arm nom" to his list of crimes against humanity. Thanks to Dan B. for the pic.
The NBA marketing geniuses: Basketbawful reader j men wrote in to say: "Don't you find it funny that the NBA would put up a video called 'Coming Soon: Baron Davis in the 2009 playoffs'?" I assure you, he is not kidding, and yes, this comes from the official home of the NBA on YouTube:
Chris Bosh: So the "RuPaul of Big Men" is a deadbeat dad and his malfeasance might have caused the Craptors descent into oblivion? Wow. It's enough to make Toronto fans long for those halcyon days of the Vinsanity Era.