The Milwaukee M.A.S.H. Unit: It appears playing without Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut is starting to wear these guys down. They've lost four of five -- with the one win in that stretch coming against the second-worst-in-the-league Wizards -- and last night they weren't even competitive. They shot 37 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers, a large chunk of which came in the form of Delonte West's career-high 8 steals. Said Bucks coach Scot Skiles: "They played better than us in almost all areas." On the bright side, Milwaukee DID shoot almost 93 percent from the line (13-14). The Cavs, meanwhile, missed NINE foul shots. And that, my friends, is what we call a moral victory. Not to be confused, of course, the kind of victory that counts in the standings. Extra woe for the Bucks: The loss dropped them into a tie with the Bulls for the East's final playoff spot.
The New Jersey Nets: They played a scrappy game and gave themselves a chance to win it at the end, but they were doomed by D. Or, rather, the complete and utter lack thereof: Boston shot 61 percent from the field (41-for-67) and from downtown (8-for-13) despite Ray Allen's "meh" 3-for-8 night. Hands. They go in faces, people. Maybe Lawrence Frank needs to offer a free doughnut or something for every time a player gets his hands above his waste on defense. That would be quite a bonus in these troubled times.
Vince Carter, Captain Obvious: Half-man, Half-a-heart scored a game-high 34 points (13-for-21) and had a chance to tie the game at the end. He drove straight into contact, pulled a Shaq, and (not surprisingly) missed the shot attempt. ("If nautical nonsense be somethin' ye wish -- SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS! -- then drop on the deck and flop like a fish!") Afterwards, Vinsane said: "It was a shot I felt I could make. I didn't make it." In related news, I was unable to convince Gwen Stefani to run away to Sweden with me.
The Phoenix Suns: When Alvin Gentry brought "Seven Seconds or Less" back to Phoenix, I didn't realize it really meant "Seven Seconds or Less...of Defense." Miami isn't a team that lights it up -- they average 97.5 PPG on 45 percent shooting -- but against 7SoLoD, the Heat put up 135 points while shooting 57 percent from the field (and 56 percent from distance). Daequan Cook and Michael Beasley combined for almost 60 points off the bench. Said Suns coach Alvin Gentry: "We shot 57 percent and 50 percent from (3-point range), so that should be enough to win the game. Sure, Alvin, unless your opponent does the same thing. Sadly, this was a game the Suns could have won if they'd stopped somebody...anybody. Oh, wait...
Jermaine O'Neal: The Suns stopped one guy, at least. The Drain finished with 6 points (2-for-7) and had more turnovers (5) than rebounds (2). Oh, and he got absolutely flattened by Shaq on at least one occasion. Great trade, Pat.
Shaq: In a follow up to his epic lip-blasting of Stan Van Gundy, Shaq, well, I'll let the Associated Press tell the story: "O'Neal fouled [Dwyane] Wade with 1:21 left, then stood over him Muhammad Ali-style until Udonis Haslem nudged him O'Neal out of the way to help up Miami's best player. Wade made both free throws for a 127-119 lead, and cries of 'M-V-P' drowned out a profane anti-Shaq chant from some in the crowd. And on the next Miami possession, it was over for The Big Fella. Wade drove on him again to draw Shaq's sixth foul, and all O'Neal could do was meander slowly to the bench." Here's the video:
Superman or superdickery? I'll let you be the judge. (But here's a hint: It was superdickery.) I'm sure Shaq was acting out because Wade flopped...and you know how Shaq hates floppers.
The Atlanta Hawks: The Dirty Birds were gunned down by Big Shot Larry Hughes, who scored a game-high 23 points on 9-for-18 shooting (including 2-for-4 on threes). The Hawks are now 14-17 since their mighty 20-10 start. These things do not breed confidence.
Mike D'Antoni, quote machine: From the New York Times via TrueHoop: "Nate Robinson is still bothered by a sprained left ankle, which he injured in Saturday's loss to Miami. 'He just said he can't go left,' Mike D'Antoni said. 'I didn't know if that was because of his ankle, or he just can't go left.'" Classic.
The Washington Wizards Generals: Another night, yet another soul-crushing lost for the Wicked Worst of the East. The latest case of fail came against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were still without the services of leading scorers Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. The Generals can't even beat a severely handicapped Thunder team. That's...beyond sad. Can I get word check? What's worse than tragic sadness?
"Why's everybody tripping out? Big picture, if I start rehabbing now and get through the pain that prevented me from running or jumping this summer, I'll be back on the court sooner. How's that a bad thing?"
"I wasn't going to play in training camp or preseason anyway, so I don't know why it's such a big deal. They cleaned the knee out. I can't walk on it for three days. Monday I can start rehabbing. I knew this was going to happen. Dwyane Wade will probably have a debris clean-out next summer. People are making it much worse than it is."
Hmm... six months later I wonder if he now sees why people were "tripping out".
To bad the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn't have a Lemon Law written in.
Kevin Durant: Hmm. The Thunder are 3-0 since Durant got hurt. DON'T TELL BILL SIMMONS. It'll invalidate half the NBA columns he's written this year. All three of them. Oh, wait, that's his total column count for the year. Well, you get my drift. I'd hate to kill his bromance with KD.
The Golden State Warriors: They put the Bulls in a 14-point first-quarter hold and ended up losing by 22. That's because they don't play defense. And as I noted at By The Horns today, if Mike D'Antoni's offense is called "Seven Seconds or Less," then Nellie Ball should be called "Four Seconds or Fewer" or "One Pass and Chuck It." I've seen better basketball played by grade schoolers. Did the Warriors share one of Don Nelson's pre-game beers? Have they stopped caring? Did they EVER care? It's really hard to tell at this point. All I know is that the Bulls put forth a half-hearted effort but pounded them anyway. Brad Miller, who couldn't outrun a bean bag, kept beating his Warrior defenders off the dribble. That should never happen, unless the defender has two broken legs and some brain damage. Wow.
Yao Ming, complaint machine: The Great Wall lost a few bricks after his Rockets fell to the Jazz in Utah. He shot 7-for-18, committed 4 turnovers and fouled out in 30 minutes, then got all cranky with the refs. Said Yao: "Every time a defender player is on the ground, even if he just wants to sit down and have a rest, it's my offensive foul. That's unfair. I guess I don't need to worry about (a) flopper next game. I don't think Shaq's that type of player.' Oh, sweet, sweet irony.
Update! Basketbawful reader Austen makes a good point: "You know what's really funny about the Rockets whining about foul calls? The Rockets shot nearly double the number of free throws the Jazz had: 32 Rocket free throws to 17 Jazz ones. In Utah. The one place in the league the Jazz are likely to get foul calls in their favor, and the Rockets got nearly double the number of free throws. The difference is that the Jazz made all 17 of their attempts, and the Rockets only made 24/32. That's 8 points, more than the Jazz's margin of victory. Had the Rockets made their free throws, they mathematically would have won the game. So they can give it a rest whining about foul calls going against them."
Update! Jerry Sloan, unintentionally dirty quote machine: My attention (not to mention my imagination) was caught by this Sloan quote sent in by Basketbawful reader fortysevenminutes: "This is a tough team to play against. They're so big and long, it's tough to deal with them all night long."
The San Antonio Spurs: They dropped a roadie to the Mavericks, who themselves were coming off a win over the Kevin Durant-less (and Jeff Green-less) Thunder. And where was the defense? Dallas shot nearly 54 percent from the field. That had to get Gregg Popovich riled up. Speaking of riled up...
Mark Cuban, rage machine: Here's what Marky Mark had to say yesterday in regards to his team's loss to the Thunder: "I would rather turn over the roster 100 percent than subject fans to another game like last night." But, but, didn't you bring all these guys here?! Ready to admit trading away Devin Harris was a mistake yet...?
Home cookin': I'm not trying to say that the refs bailed the Blazers out with an iffy last-second call...actually, you know what? I am saying that. Rough.
The Los Angeles Clippers: Good God. The Grizzlies stopped an eight-game slide by hammering the Clippers by 22 in L.A. The Griz shot 56 percent from the field (and almost 54 percent from downtown) and had 30 assists on 46 baskets. So, okay, it's official. The Clippers have quit for the season. Yeah, yeah, Zach Randolph was gone (his father is very ill) and Marcus Camby missed the final three quarters because of a migraine. But still. This team is just epically 'bawful. Which means, of course, that they are who we thought they were. And if anybody made a bet on this team to do anything, then, well, I guess they deserve to lose. After all, a fool and his money are soon parted.
Lacktion report: Chris continues to author epic recaps of the embarrassingly non-epic nightly lacktations:
Bucks-Cavs: King Crab may be the featured attraction at the Q, but he's not the only crustacean in Cleveland who's the best at his profession. Mike Brown's selection of Tarence Kinsey as his primary human victory cigar has paid dividends for months, tonight marking the milestone of a playoff spot when Kinsey snapped into a suck differential of +2 via foul and giveway in 3:42.
Meanwhile, in 16:06, Milwaukee's starting big man Francisco Elson got a bit of a Voskuhl at 4:3 (three fouls and one turnover against a brick and three rebounds).
Suns-Heat: Yeah, the big story of the night is the Shaq-JVG feud, but in a full 22:15, Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal lived down to his nickname once again with a powered up Voskuhl of 11:8 (five turnovers plus a foul-out against a mere two rebounds, two made field goals in seven tries, and two charity stripe points) OUCH. Maybe he got some extra tips on how to fail as a big man from All-Lacktion choice Joel Anthony, who refused to take a shot for a 4:1 Voskuhl in 10:53, recording two turnovers and fouls each against one offensive rebound.
Spurs-Mavs: When the ESPN commentators noted that Fabricio Oberto would be spending some time on the floor, I sensed lacktivity forthcoming as he awkwardly walked towards his own arc without providing a defensive presence. Thus one of the richest bench players this year did not disappoint with a +1 via foul in 2:19, also counting as a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
Rockets-Jazz: In one of the most shocking transactions of the year, Clutch the Bear just gave Houston's Luther Head his walking papers despite their clear need for a human victory cigar in the wake of Knee-Mac's absence. Unsurprisingly, the loss of this good luck charm was felt in a close defeat to the Jazz, but not before Rick Adelman was able to audition two guys for the #1 lacktator spot. Brent Barry bricked once from downtown for a +1 in 4:21, while Chuck Hayes was nine seconds better in avoiding recorded stats for a 4.5 trillion surplus!
Pacers-Blazers: Maceo Baston of Indiana struck it rich tonight with a 1.45 trillion.
A night at the flopera, ESPN halftime report edition: Here's some bonus 'bawful from Chris:
First off, the commentators spend some time on Shaq's media callout of Stan Van Gundy after being accused of a flop by the latter. Apparently, one of Shaq's excuses is...he flopped that one time so that the player being called for a foul would not get hurt.
But that's not all!
We get highlights of Celtics-Nets. Last possession, Vinsanity with a chance to tie it. Drives the lane, makes contact upon the layup attempt...and drops down to the floor like he's in a Medic-Alert commercial. No call.
The ESPN studio guys then say "He HAS to sell that a little better!" Wait. Is that an actual advocacy of flopping from the talking heads? What? I had to do a double take but yeah, that is what I heard."
Yeah. I heard that too. And, well, I included this email in Worst of the Night for a reason...
Kobe Bryant: Mamba tied Adam Morrison's shoelaces together and made him go through an entire practice that way. Then Kobe made Adam drive home with his shoelaces tied together as well.