I can't tell who's flopping either.
The Phoenix Suns: Sometimes it's amazing how quickly a game can slip away from a team, and last night was Phoenix's turn to lose their grip on a game they'd been very competitive in. Trailing by only two points with under four minutes to go apparently Phoenix decided that would be a good time to let the Magic go on an 8-0 run, and unfortunately for them that put the game out of reach. After all, it's pretty tough to overcome a 10 point lead with less than two minutes to play in a game, and so what had been a 95-93 lead for the Magic turned into a 111-99 win for Orlando. What was the thing that sparked the Magic to the win? Well it all started with...
Shaquille O'Neal: The Big Diesel has really been playing great lately, looking like he'd turned the clock back five years or more; and last night was a pretty good effort as well, considering he was matched up against The Other Man of Steel (or maybe The Man of Steal, for stealing Shaq's Superman nickname? I dunno, I'll leave that up to you), Dwight Howard. Shaq finished with 19 & 11 and held Howard to 21 & 8. So why is he mentioned here? For a couple reasons. First, I don't know if all the scoring and minutes lately have worn him out, but Shaq really ran out of gas down the stretch in this one, making only two field goals over the last 18 minutes (one of which was a mostly uncontested dunk after the game was basically over). Now, when that happens you might think it's cause he was getting fouled and sent to the line a lot, but no, Shaq only had three free throw attempts on the night. Maybe The New Superman just wore him out? Anyway, the other reason Shaq gets a mention here is because he sort of was the reason the Magic went on that late run. His foul on Dwight Howard with 3:38 to go in the game and his subsequent technical for arguing the call suddenly put his team in a five point hole, which became eight with the next Magic trip down the floor. When you're trailing late on the road, that's a poor time to start whining about a rather obvious foul call. Then again, maybe he had a legit gripe...
Home cookin': Orlando had 38 free throw attempts compared to only 17 for the Suns. Mmm... you smell that? I'm just sayin'.
The Orlando fans: Booing Grant Hill? Really? You think he was faking all those injuries he had while he was a member of the Magic? You think he missed the prime of his career just cause he was lazy or something? You must have him confused with one of his former Orlando teammates: Knee-Mac.
The Chicago Bulls:
While one might be tempted to give the Bulls a pass because they had a couple key players out with injuries (Luol Deng and Tim Thomas), keep in mind that the Bobcat team that beat them by 16 points has their own collection of walking wounded, with Raja Bell sporting an injured bicep, Gerald Wallace playing through hits to his previously cracked ribs, and Emeka Okafor and Raymond Felton playing on gimpy ankles. Maybe the difference is that the Bobcats lately seem like they're playing with a purpose, like they've got a goal in mind, while Chicago continues to be in a confused state of flux. Vinny Del Negro had this fantastic insight after the game: "I didn't like our effort. I didn't like our turnovers." I'd say that's about an 8 on the Dull Negrometer:
Raymond Felton, humility machine: Said Felton after the game, "We've got a lot of tough guys on this team. Raja, Gerald Wallace, that says a lot. I commend those guys, but I'm the same way." What a nice complement, Raymond. For yourself, I mean.
The Denver Nuggets:
It was one of those games where you could blame the loss on a guy who didn't even play (ironically for Detroit you could credit the win to a guy who didn't play for them either, but more on that in a minute). Denver was playing without star Carmelo Anthony, who the team suspended
for last night's game in Detroit for refusing to come out of the game on Sunday against Indiana when coach George Karl tried to sub him out. With Carmelo out of the starting lineup that opened the door for...
Let's just say last night wasn't exactly his Wally Pipp moment
. Presented with the starters' spot and starters' minutes, Kleiza made the least of them, going 1-4 for 2 points in 26 minutes of play. Oh well, at least Carmelo's starting job is safe. Kleiza's disappearing act at the small forward spot might not have been so bad if Denver's other starting forward had shown up to cover for him, but that didn't happen. Speaking of which...
Kenyon Martin: Neck Lips went for 6 whole points in 33 minutes, and he got 3 whole rebounds too! Maybe he was protesting the Carmelo suspension by mentally taking the game off?
Allen Iverson: AI missed his third straight game with a back injury. Detroit won its third straight game without him. Coincidence? I think not. Detroit's starting five all were fantastic, with each player scoring at least 16 points, and with all of them showing the kind of cohesive play that has earned them six straight trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. Wins over Orlando, Boston and now Denver w/o AI are not making the case for Iverson's importance to the team. When Iverson returns from his injury he reportedly will be coming off the bench, and that's probably a good thing, cause lord knows their bench could use some scoring, as evidenced last night by...
Kwame Brown, Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson & Walter Herrmann: Detroit's starting unit was great last night, but their bench only had 7 total points, and all of them came from Will Bynum as the only second string backcourt player. Detroit's entire bench frontline scored a grand total of zero points in 37 combined minutes. That's some serious lacktivity.
The Minnesota Timberwolves:
You know, when Nellieball is clicking it's pretty damn tough to stop. Just ask Minnesota who went into the half last night down 66-37. At home. You know a game had a lot of garbage time when one team has five players off the bench who got more than 20 minutes of playing time. There's not a whole lot to say here so I'll let Kevin McHale do it for me: "That's as bad as you can play and there's no excuses for that. That's my fault. The guys weren't ready to play and that falls on me. We didn't get back. We didn't defend. We didn't do anything." No argument here. I'm guessing it's games like this one that made the Timberwolves decide to offer tickets for as low as $5 a game next season
The Milwaukee Bucks: Honestly it's tough to get too down on these guys considering they're missing Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd, but when you're sitting in the 8th seed and you're playing the team that's sitting in the 9th seed and it's a home game, that's a game you've got to win. That goes double when you're playing the Nets on a night where Devin Harris and Vince Carter combine to shoot 8-34 from the field and the starting SF/PF combo (Trenton Hassell & Yi Jianlian) combine for 6 total points. And while I'm in the advice-giving mood, you probably want to put a body on rookie center Brook Lopez (24 pts, 12 boards). Just FYI.
The Pacers-Kings game: Since the last time I did one of these I got an earful from Ziller for calling out Kevin Martin's scoring efficiency, and since Mr. Bawful is a big Pacers fan I'll just say this: both teams played hard. I should probably also point out that Troy Murphy had another great game with 23 points on 12 shots, along with 10 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and a partridge in a pear tree. Take that, David Lee fans!
Tracy McGrady: It's tough to say who's making a stronger case for Least Valuable Player right now (at least for players making more than $20m/season): Knee-Mac or Allen Iverson . Since Knee-Mac quit hemming and hawing and just hung it up for the season the Rockets have been unleashed. After beating Toronto last night the Rockets are now 8-1 since McGrady
quit on them had season ending surgery, and are quickly climbing up the playoff seedings in the West, now ranked 3rd behind San Antonio and the Lakers. What a sad commentary it would be on McGrady's legacy if the first time a team he's on gets out of the first round of the playoffs they do so with him unable to play due to an injury.
Rudy Gay: Not only did he have one shot blocked and one shot stripped by Josh Powell, he also had two shots blocked by DJ Mbenga. That's a lot of ego-ectomies by the end of the Laker bench for one night:
Phil Jackson: Last night he gave further credence to my theory that he tends to play the Laker bench a lot of extended minutes in games that are still in doubt when the Lakers play a team he thinks they should beat. Against Memphis last night, even though the game was fairly closely contested for much of it, he decided to go with a 10 man rotation and didn't play anyone less than 18 minutes (nor did he play anyone more than 30 minutes). Then again he does have 9 championships as a coach, so maybe he knows what he's doing. The Lakers did win the game after all.
Chris is to lacktion what Bill Laimbeer is to being an evil bastard.
Nuggets-Pistons: With the Not-Answer firmly chained to the infirmary, former #1 overall draft pick Kwame Brown got to experience the thrill of being a human victory cigar for Detroit, fouling once for a suck differential +1 in 6:30 which also resulted in a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl. Amir Johnson decided to make himself fit in with the rest of Oakland County with a 2.3 trillion!About the author: Wild Yams
Warriors-Wolves: Don Nelson decided to change it up a bit, actually calling on Jermareo Davidson to play contributory basketball. Thus Rob Kurz was selected as the designated lacktator for Oaktown's team, bricking twice for +2 in 1:53 at the Target Center.
Rockets-Raptors: Some things in life are constants - Bill Simmons being a homer, Vin Baker looking at his child support statements, and...Jake Voskuhl living down to lacktivity. Despite a blocked shot in his 5:59 of fail, he again generated his namesake stat, a 2:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl via one foul and one giveaway against a brick.
Grizzlies-Lakers: Greg Buckner did block a shot and even bothered to pilfer the rock from the residents of Staples Center in his 6:48 on the floor. But a brick from downtown led to a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl via foul.
is a frequent reader of Basketbawful and many other basketball blogs, and is just as much a pain in the ass here as he is on those other sites. Like LeBron James, he likes to refer to himself in the third person, but unlike LeBron James, he has not mastered the crab dribble.
Labels: guest author, Worst of the Night