The Atlanta Hawks: Their loss to the Bobcats -- the seventh defeat in their last 10 games -- was a footnote to the sideshow put on by Josh Smith and Hawks coach Mike Woodson. Smith, as you may or may not know, hates his coach, and that hatred bubbled over during halftime, as player and coach got into a verbal smackdown that could be heard in the hallway outside the Hawks locker room. Woodson then benched Smith for the second half, and Josh spent that time on the pine with a towel draped over his back. Neither man wanted to talk about the argument after the game. After all, why clear the air when you can let negative feelings linger until they become toxic. In my experience, sleeping on an argument usually means you wake up to find the argument squatting on your chest and trying to suck your breath out, like that little troll thingie from "Stephen King's Cat's Eye."
Dwyane Wade's butter fingers: Pookie had another MVP-like game against the Craptors: 42 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists. But he also had 8 of his team's 12 turnovers. That's a lot of giveaways.
The New Jersey Nets: They had a pretty good chance to come away with a huge win in Orlando. In fact, thanks to a three-pointer by Jarvis Hayes, they even took an 8-point lead with 7:26 to play. But I'm sure you can guess they didn't hold on for the victory, right? New Jersey went 1-for-8 over the last 6:16 and lost 105-102 when Vinsanity bonked a potential game-tying three-ball at the buzzer. And you know what that means -- playoff prediction update time! The Nets are now 16-27 since Devin Harris said: "We knew we were going to be a playoff team." In related news, they are also currently 11th in the East.
Lawrence Frank, Captain Obvious: "This is a make or miss league. You make them, you win the game. You miss them, you lose."
The Cleveland Cavaliers: The Celtics were without Kevin Garnett, Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine, and then Big Baby got ejected in the third quarter (more on that below). The stage was set for a big win by the Crabs, right? Uh, no. Maybe John Hollinger stat cursed them by bragging up their defense before the game, but the Celtics wound up shooting 54 percent and scoring 105 points despite a 38-12 free throw disadvantage. Bonus stat curse: On Friday, lordhenry left the following comment: "I wonder if the Cavs beating the Celtics will affect bawful as badly as L.A.? Probably not." As it turned out, you were definitely right about the "not" part.
LeBron James: Rough game for King Crab. His man, Paul Pierce, lit him up for 29 points (11-for-22) and 9 assists while he struggled his way to 21 points on 5-for-15 shooting. 'Bron also had a game-high 4 turnovers and got YouTube'd thrice. First, he missed a wide-open dunk:
Then he was picked for two the other way:
Finally, Ray Allen, well, you have to see it to believe it:
All in all, a rough night for the Royal Crustacean.
The continuing wussification of the league: Glen Davis got ejected for this:
Was it a flagrant foul? Sure. Worthy of two shots and the ball? Yep. But an ejection? Really? How far would you suppose that made Rich Mahorn projectile vomit? Twenty feet? Thirty maybe?
The Golden State Warriors: I think Don Nelson summed up his team's 108-91 loss to the Pistons best when he said: "We got into a gun fight and we had a knife." And it wasn't one of those huge Crocodile Dundee "Tha's naht a knoif, THIS is a knoif!" knives, either. It was the crappy little plastic kind you get at Taco Bell. You known, the kind that can't even cut through a Chalupa.
The Phoenix Suns: Their drive to miss the playoffs for the first time since Steve Nash arrived continued on Friday night with a hopelifting 116-112 loss to the Rockets. Hopelifting if you want the Suns to end up with a lottery pick, that is. Phoenix once again played Seven Seconds or Less...of defense. Aaron Brooks, who wasn't even starting before Houston sent Rafer Alston to the Magic right before the trade deadline, scored a career-high 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting. He was also 1-for-1 on game-winners, after he drove past a Shaq statue for the go-ahead bucket with 7.3 seconds left. Putting up huge point totals is great, but last time I checked, you still have to outscore the other team to win. Somebody better get that memo to the Suns, and fast. This loss dropped them three games behind Dallas for the last playoff spot in the West.
Steve Nash: He scored a season-high 32 points to go along with a game-high 13 assists. He also grabbed 5 rebounds -- equaling Shaq's output -- and hit four of his six three-point attempts. In fact, his last three tied the game with 30 seconds left. He was so "on fire," they probably should have tried putting him on Aaron Brooks. Wait, what? He WAS on Aaron Brooks?
Ugh. Defensive fail.
The Milwaukee Bucks' bench: Richard Jefferson (27 points), Luc Richard Mbah a MouteLabia mud charm toucher (21 points, 7-for-8, 11 rebounds), Ramon Sessions (20 points, 11 assists) and Chuck Villanueva (19 points, 12 rebounds) did what they could to keep their team close -- cutting a double-digit lead only 3 early in the fourth quarter -- but they ran out of gas because the bench jockeys couldn't get it done. The Milwaukee Pine Riders contributed 11 points (5-for-21), 5 turnovers and 13 fouls.
The Washington Wizards Generals: Caron Butler was sitting (sore left hammy). DeShawn Stevenson is done for the year (not that I'm sure he ever started). Gilbert Arenas is still swimming around in his giant money bin. And the Wizards remained the worst team in the Eastern Conference after a 100-78 thumping by the Spurs. And mind you, they suffered this beat down despite Tim Duncan's near Voskuhl (5 points, 5 rebounds, 5 turnovers, 4 fouls). Could things possibly get any worse for this team? Sure, if they all woke up with Chlamydia, maybe.
The Minnesota Timberwolves: They shot 33 percent from the field en route to their eighth straight loss. How badly did the Lakers thwack them? Here's a hint: Adam Morrison played nearly eight minutes. Guh.
Mike Miller: Pointless in nearly 33 minutes? Hey, Mike is supposed to be a shooter/scorer, right? Why has this guy become so terrified of shooting the ball? Is there a bomb in his head that's set to go off if he takes too many shots? Seriously, what is up with this guy?
The Denver Nuggets: They drew first blood against the Jazz by building a 19-point second-quarter lead. That was good. Then they gave up a run of 17 straight points over the end of the second period and beginning of the third. That was decidedly less good. And natch, Utah rallied for a 97-91 win. But if you ask J.R. Smith, the loss wasn't due to his team's 39 percent shooting, the 11 missed foul shots or the fact that they finished with more turnovers (13) than assists (11). It was obviously home cookin'. Said Smith: "They got every call. They got to the free throw line. That’s what opened it up and then the fans got behind them." Somebody should probably inform J.R. that the 36 free throw attempts...only one fewer than the Jazz. Just sayin'.
Friday lacktivity report: Chris is still gettin' jiggy with the lacktion:
Nets-Magic: JJ Redick spent 9:39 in a disappearing act for the Magic, bricking once from downtown for +1. Meanwhile, New Jersey's Josh Boone snagged a slight Voskuhl of 2:1 in 7:09 via two fouls against a rebound and no shot attempts.
Heat-Raptors: The Little Three of lacktivity were sidelined tonight for the Craptors, so Roko Ukic regressively rocked out a +4 in 4:13 via three fouls and a giveaway.
Cavs-Celtics: JR Giddens and Bill Walker have provided a 1-2 punch of pointlessness for Doc Rivers since the blockbuster Patrick O'Bryant transaction, working the mushroom kingdom at the TDBanknorth Garden for a 50-second stint as Mario Brothers! (Giddens actually managed a steal and a rebound in that brief moment in time.)
Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson was again a consistent non-contributor for the Cuyahoga County crustaceans, culling a crisp 1.45 trillion. His unproductivity was highlighted even more by fellow Crab Tarence Kinsey's failure to crawl to that collection of coins in the same run, taking the ball from Celtic hands to nullify a turnover. And Sasha Pavlovic shelled out a +2 in 4:20 via a foul and brick from downtown.
Warriors-Pistons: Kwame Brown's 15:04 on the floor featured a Voskuhl of 8:6 (four fouls and four giveaways against four rebounds and two baskets from the charity stripe).
Bucks-Bulls: The Notorious VDN rarely registers emotion or smart coaching, so to be in a position to bring out the human victory cigars had to be one hell of a bonus. (And sure, it was against the Milwaukee M.A.S.H. Unit but who's counting?) Apparently he prefers scoring a copy of Super Mario Galaxy to collecting a huge fortune, as Aaron Gray and Anthony Roberson barely made it as Super Mario Brothers with twin 59-second stints!
Nuggets-Jazz: Johan Petro loves scoring the Voskuhl, evidenced by yet another one tonight in a loss at Utah: in 10:38, he took three fouls and gave the ball up against there rebounds and two bricks for a 4:3 ratio.
Meanwhile, Jerry Sloan's affection for the machine that brought us Zelda, Duck Hunt, and Blades of Steel continues with a 38 second Mario for Ronnie Price! (Price did manage a steal and assist in his limited playing time). Price was joined by fellow lacktator Matt Harpring, who provided +4 with a twin helping of turnovers and bricks for a 5:35 shift as human victory cigar.
The Detroit Pistons: From the AP game notes: "The Hawks swept Detroit for the first time since 1993-94. ... Before going 0-2 against Atlanta this season, the Pistons won 12 of the previous 15 series matchups. ... Detroit dropped to 7-22 this season when trailing after three quarters." I bet Allen Iverson did a little fist-pump after this game.
Mike Woodson: Not only did Josh Smith play, he started for the Hawks. And while his 19 points and 12 boards were a big part of Atlanta's victory, I can't help but wonder what kind of message is being sent when a player can freak out on the coach during a game and get of with a slap on the wrist.
The New York Knicks: The Charlott Bobcats came into Madison Square Garden and won their sixth straight game -- setting a franchise record in the process -- by shooting 55 percent from the field and 50 percent from downtown. Mike 'Antoni's defense strikes again. Although the word "strike" probably isn't quite accurate, since it indicates positive action instead of negative lacktion. The defense sleeps again? Yep. Fixed. Said 'Antoni: "I didn't think our energy was very good. It is a skill to play hard. We have to either acquire the skill or learn how to do it or something." Uh, isn't skill building part of a coaches responsibility? I mean, I think I heard that, you know, somewhere. I might be wrong, though.
Dwyane Wade: His shooting was off (9-for-23) and he was ejected in the final minute of Miami's 99-89 loss to the Crabs after he received his second technical foul of the game for bitching about a non-call. It was the first ejection of Pookie's career. "We felt we got some bad calls. Tempers got hot. I felt I got fouled and there was no call. So my temper got hot. I deserved the tech. That's it." Whoa, wait a minute, what's that? A superstar owing up to his mistake? Hey, Shaq. You watchin' this? (Of course, that admission came AFTER blaming the refs...)
Statistical note: Basketbawful reader DKH wrote: "I didn't see the Heat-Cavs game, but it looks like LeBron James picked up a Jason Kidd triple double: 14/10/12 (on 15 shots!)." Indeed he did.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: That 28-point loss in New Orleans really brought them back down to earth, huh? It could be that they are who we thought they were.
Memphis Grizzlies: Holy crap! How does a team shoot over 56 percent at home and lose?! Better ask the Grizzlies, 'cause that's what they did on Saturday night, falling to the heretofore struggling Sixers 110-105. Memphis has now lost nine of their last 10 games. And that one victory? It was against the Clippers, so it really should only count as 0.5 of a win.
Yes, I know they played the second half without Rudy Gay -- who got poked in the eye in the first half -- but still. That doesn't explain their lack of effort on D and lack of focus on O, both of which brought out more of that unbiased reporting from the AP: "Conley hit his first four shots as the Grizzlies opened at 69 percent shooting, but that wasn't enough to overcome a porous defensive effort. The Sixers repeatedly got to the rim for easy baskets, and the Grizzlies were sloppy on offense. Representative of the poor execution, Marko Jaric was calling a play out front, and Williams stole the ball cleanly from him and ran the floor for a fast break basket. On Philadelphia’s next possession, Ratliff scored from 7 feet out as Darko Milicic’s defense amounted to standing with his back to Ratliff and his arms extended in the air." Huh. Is it biased when you're just telling the truth?
Marko Jaric: Just wanted to point out, he's 2-for-26 over his last nine games. Hey, Adriana! There's still time to have that marriage annulled!
Andre Iguodala, Captain Obvious: On the important factors of his taem's "big" win over the Grizzlies: "We scored over 100, which is always a plus for us, plus making them commit turnovers."
The Golden State Warriors: Scoring 120 points on 51 percent shooting should be good enough for a win. It really, really should. Sadly, the Warriors gave up 127 points to a short-staffed Bucks team playing in the second-game of back-to-backs. Richard Jefferson scored a season-high 35 points, and I really wish somebody somewhere was keeping track of all the season-highs the Warriors have given up this season. Said Stephen Jackson: "We didn't want to go home after getting blown out twice in a row. We wanted to come out tonight and have a better effort and compete. I think we did that for the most part. We gave ourselves a chance. They just made better plays down the stretch." I guess when you're on Golden State, feel-good losses are the best you can hope for.
Corey Maggette, alien doppleganger: After the Warriors' loss to the Bucks -- in which he missed a wide-open three that could have tied the game late -- Bad Porn said: "As a veteran player, I need to be better with the ball and make better decisions and get the ball to the right person." Okay. I'm off to Corey's house to check for space pods...
The Washington Wizards Generals: Within every lump of poop there is a gross, runny interior. The Generals are the NBA-equivalent of that fecal center. They are a team that can shoot nearly 53 percent from the field and almost 60 percent from downtown and yet lose by 16. And the Mavs didn't even have Josh Howard. Mr. T has officially pitied these fools.
The Portland Trail Blazers: Barely beating the Al Jefferson-less Timberwolves? Not a confidence booster, and definitely one of those "Wins That Aren't As Good As Others." Said Brandon Roy: "I think we kind of overlooked them a little bit, and guys were getting ready for the Lakers." Well, I certainly hope you beat the Lakers, then. That'll make it all worth it.
The Los Angeles Clippers: They led by as many as 15 points in the third quarter before losing to the Danny Granger-less Pacers by a point. At home. Yeah, I know, no Marcus Camby, no Baron Davis, no Ricky Davis, blah, blah, blah. This team couldn't possibly be who we thought they were any more than they were this weekend. The Clippers are the Greek Tragedy Team of the NBA. A soul-sucking basketball void.
Donald Sterling: He spent a lot of money assembling said soul-sucking basketball void, so you can understand why he's upset. But...remember what I said about HIM assembling that void? Yeah, exactly.
Saturday lactivity report: Despite a late night out, Chris still managed to report the lacktion:
Pistons-Hawks: Kwame Brown's one rebound wasn't enough to help the former #1 overall draft pick garner yet another Voskuhl in his 6:04 of suckiness, going for a 3:1 ratio (two fouls and a giveaway against one assist).
On the other hand, Atlanta was placed in a position to win through the successful management of its reknowned human victory cigars. Acie Law fouled once in 2:41 for a suck differential of 2:41, while THE Mario West scored his namesake with a 15 second Mario! (And somehow he had enough time for a board.)
Heat-Cavs: Miami's James Jones may have the most generic name in the NBA this side of Joe Smith, but he skipped past the imitation Pac-Man consoles and the Tiger Electronics handheld bowling special for a 22 second Mario.
Meanwhile, King Crab's expansion of his seafood buffet with a triple-double enabled Mike Brown to put out one of his regular human victory cigars, JJ Hickson. Hickson bricked once and gave up the rock twice for a +3 in 4:41.
Bobcats-Knicks: Michael Jordan knows the value of having a lacktator confirm victory first-hand -- he played with one-time trillionaire champ Jud Buechler after all in Chicago! So it comes as no surprise that his latest basketball playset contains one of these habit-forming devices; in this case it was Cartier Martin, who notched a 1.45 trillion at the Garden.
Thunder-Hornets: Sean Marks's one brick in 10:25 was all he needed to get on the lacktion ledger with a +1 for New Orleans.
Wizards-Mavs: Gerald Green went for the gold (and some stock options too!) with a 3.95 trillion, no doubt making Mark Cuban chuckle from his courtside seat.
Wolves-Blazers: Joel Przybilla made no shot attempts in his 21:22 of playing time, resulting in a bit of a Voskuhl: two fouls and two giveaways each against three rebounds for a 4:3 ratio.
Kyle Korver: whiny bitch machine: From the AP recap: "Kyle Korver matched a season-high with 20 points despite a fitful, and brief, night of rest. 'Getting up in the morning kind of stinks,' Korver said. 'But once you finally get up, you start going, you have your energy drink and eat your breakfast it's like another game.' The Jazz usually practice at 10:00 a.m. at home, but early mornings don't often agree with Korver. 'It's terrible,' he said. 'I don't even like going to practice in the morning. I would rather practice at midnight. I think all our sleep patterns were kind of messed up last night.'"
The Toronto Raptors: Five losses in a row, seven of 10, next-to-last in the East.
Chris Bosh: Wonder why Shaq called him the Rupaul of big men? Here's why:
The Orlando Magic: Sure, they beat the Celtics in Boston. But injuries to Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo forced Doc Rivers to start Stephon Marbury and Glen "Big Baby" Davis. And Baby left the game in the third with an ankle sprain and didn't return. Oh, and the Celts are missing Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen, too. So the fact that the Magic gave up a 22-point lead to barely pull out this win is kinda sad. But hey, a win's a win.
The Boston Celtics: Yes, they're missing a lot of peeps, but still: The C's posted their lowest-scoring first quarter (15 points) and half (33 points) of the season. And, uh, I mentioned Stephon Marbury started, right?
The Phoenix Suns: They had another one of those "close but no cigar" losses to their arch-nemesis, the Spurs, to finish 0-4 on their four-game road trip. They are now a full four games out of the Western Conference playoff picture. It's going to take a near-miracle for this team to make the postseason. And since Shaq and Grant Hill have stayed healthy for the entire year, I'd say their supply of miracles has run out.
Steve Nash: Tony Parker lit him up for a game-high 30 points (13-for-22), which means that opposing point guards averaged 30 points on 57 percent shooting (to go along with 22 assists) against Nash this weekend.
The New York Knicks: From the AP recap: "[The Nets] made the plays down the stretch, while the Knicks melted down amid an ugly combination of missed shots and turnovers in the final 2 1/2 minutes. Brook Lopez's bucket inside gave New Jersey a 100-99 lead, then Harris took Larry Hughes' turnover the other way for an uncontested layup with none of the Knicks scurrying back on defense, making it a three-point game with 1:15 to go. Harris and Bobby Simmons each added a pair of free throws in the final seconds after empty New York possessions. The Knicks missed four straight shots and committed three turnovers following Lopez's go-ahead bucket. 'We didn't make some shots and obviously we turned the ball over in key situations and they made plays at the end,' said Hughes, who seemed more interested in arguing with the referee then running back after Simmons knocked the ball away from him." Ah, New York, New York...
Larry Hughes: See above. (He is who we thought he was.)
The Memphis Grizzlies: They bounced back from losing at home despite shooting 56 percent to losing on the road after shooting 38 percent. That's more like it!
The Philadelphia 76ers: The world has been flipped on its ear. Night has become day. Black has become white. Tastes great has become less filling. The hot side has become cool, and the cool side has become hot. And admist all this chaos, the Oklahoma City Thunder have become unbeatable. They've won four of five despite the continuing absence of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. They're just the team's two leading scorers. No big. Meanwhile, the Sixers are reeling. They've lost seven of 10 games since the All-Star break, and they looked like a special needs team in Oklahoma City. Their shooting eye must have had a detatched retina (39 percent) and their fingers were covered with Teflon (21 turnovers to only 9 assists). Furthermore, the Sixers got held to their second-lowest scoring total of the season (74). And that just so happened to be the fewest points allowed by the Thunder all season. Their run and fun has become shuffle and moan.
Andre Iguodala: When Brand went down for the season, this team was turned over to Iggy. And more and more, it seems like that was the wrong call. Last night, Andre scored 9 points on 11 shots and committed a game-high 6 turnovers.
Malik Rose, God-thanking machine: Rose has been filming his own version of "Escape From New York" since he was dealt to the Thunder. And against the Sixers, he had season-highs in points (14) and rebounds (7). Can I get a halleluja, Malik? "God is good. I just was happy to get out of New York. I thank (general manager) Sam (Presti) for bringing me here. Nothing against (Knicks president) Donnie (Walsh) and the people in New York, but I didn't have a chance to play there. I'm just happy I have a chance to play. I don't know how to put it into words. I'm just having fun and it's a great group of guys around here. I'm just excited, just really happy." Yeah. Escaping the Knicks does that for people. Well, uh, except for Isiah Thomas, I guess.
The Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets have now lost two in a row, four of five, and seven of their last 10. But this latest loss, well, gak, you know? Dropping a game to the worst team in the league? The Nuggets had already lost six in a row on the road, I know, but the Kings have the third-worst home record in the NBA (10-21). Said Carmelo Anthony: "I don't even know if I can put this in words how we are feeling. I'm not sure if I'm mad, sad or angry." Added Chauncey Billups: "They are dangerous, but they should be a team we beat if we come out and take care of business. If we do that, it's over early. I don't think we really understand the importance of these games. We go through lapses on the road and don't focus in." Seriously. If only they had a veteran, championship-proven point guard to lead the...oh, wait..
Sunday lacktivity report: Chris pays his lacktion tithe:
Jazz-Raptors: Jarron Collins has been one of Jerry Sloan's most reliable human victory cigars, and he gamely set himself up for lacktion by doing what any good lacktator does: refusing the rock so as to avoid any statline-busting shot attempts that could potentially go in. Instead, he made sure to give away the ball once and foul thricely for a +4 in 5:05 - also good for a 4:0 Voskuhl!
With the Little Three of Lacktivity spending the full 48 minutes in warmups, the Craptors' Roko Ukic stepped onto the floor as a substitute lacktator, becoming the richest man of the stone age with a 1.2 trillion.
Suns-Spurs: Goran Tragic sadly sucked the life out of the solar panel squad, taking one brick, foul, and turnover each for a +3 in 3:13.
Grizzlies-Rockets: WOW! Darko Milicic was free to throw a full SEVEN bricks (without making a shot) but still didn't accrue a Voskuhl or suck differential. Yet even if he had, he would have not been the Lacktator of the Week by any means, as Brian Cook tenderized the rim four times (once from behind the arc) in 4:27, and also receiving one rejection and two fouls for a seriously sucky +7!
Sixers-Thunder: Theo Ratliff made a field goal and even had a board in his 10:09 stint. Not bad, except that he also fouled four times for a slight Voskuhl of 4:3.
Nuggets-Kings: It seems Kenny Natt likes to bring out the human victory cigars upon every single Kings win -- and I can't blame him for that, seeing how irregular of an occurence this is. Tonight at Arco Arena, Donte Greene missed once and received a rejection as well, earning +2 in 3:46. However, in defeat, George Karl still acknowledged the awesomeness of Tetris and Yoshi by sending Jason Hart out there for a 44-second Mario!
Kobe Bryant: Mamba gave Adam Morrison a hot foot. But not in a sneaky way. Kobe made Adam watch while he was doing it, and wouldn't let him put it out until he could hear the sizzle of flesh.