The San Antonio Spurs: KA-THWAMMM!! That, my friends, was the sound of the Spurs' championship window, and you don't have to be an expert in onomatopoeia-ology to understand what I'm getting at. That tried-and-true formula of surrounding their Three Amigos with smart, focused, veteran role players was already looking a little age worn due to the fact that the front office hasn't been able to restock the shelves with enough fresh produce during its offseason grocery shopping trips. But now, with Manu Ginobili lost for the season and Tim Duncan hobbling around on 70-year-old knees, doesn't it sort of feel like their time has passed? Or even maybe that it passed right after their last title, only nobody realized it because these were the Spurs, a team that had spent most of the decade being one step ahead of everybody else?
Now, they've fallen a step behind. So much so, in fact, that they blew a 19-point first-half lead and lost at home to the Portland Trail Blazers for the first time since 2002. Not only was this San Antonio's fourth loss in the last six games, it dropped them into a three-way tie with the Houston and Portland for the third-best record in the West. Oh, and with this win, the Blazers won the season series 3-1. As bright as the future looks in Portland, it's getting mighty dark for the once-mighty Spurs.
Tim Duncan: The dude is straight up hurting, and unless he gets a bionic knee implant -- unlikely -- his status isn't going to improve any time soon. It's probably a sign of the team's desperation that Gregg Popovich used TD in back-to-backs for the first time in about six weeks, and the result showed why he probably should have been sitting. He finished with 4 points on 2-for-8 shooting in almost 24 minutes and got yanked when he looked like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz while going after a loose ball. Said Pops: "I didn't like the way he moved on a loose ball, so I just pulled him. He went tonight because he felt good. When I thought he didn't, that's when I decided to pull him." Added Tony Parker: "People don't realize Timmy's been playing on one leg for like a month and a half."
The Toronto Raptors: It's kind of amusing to think that, just a few days ago, everybody was talking about how hot the Craptors were and how they were building momentum for next season. Riiiiiiiight. And I'm shooting lasers from my eyes right now. Okay, that part's true, but the part about Toronto-mentum is...
Last night's 130-101 loss to the Pacers was the Craptors' third loss in a row, and it was a real stink bomb. They obviously arrived in Indianapolis with a "defense optional" mindset, holding the Pacers to just under 55 percent shooting for the game. Indy scored 37, 37 and 41 points in the first three quarters before taking the last 12 minutes off. Said Chris Bosh: "It's over, man. The best part about it is that it's over." The game? The season? All hope for this Toronto franchise? All of the above?
Jose Calderon: His team anointed him the PG of the future and exiled T.J. Ford to the Land of Corn and Hoosiers. There might not be a direct correlation, but the Pacers are better and the Craptors are worse. And last night, Ford (14 points, 7-for-10, 11 assists) thoroughly outperformed Calderon (4 points, 2-for-9, 6 assists).
The Washington Wizards Generals: Another night, another loss for the Wicked Worst of the East. And despite the fact that it came against the Craboliers in Cleveland -- where they're pretty much invincible -- it pushed Antawn Jamison another step closer to going postal: "You play selfish basketball, try to pad the stats and not play to win games, you get blown out. The same stuff has been going on all year. It gets to the point where it's frustration. I don't know. It's not playing team basketball and not doing the things you need to do in order to win. It's disappointing. We continue to take steps back. There are no excuses. The Wizards, for some reason, when they do something good, they take four or five steps back." One big, boiling, dysfunctional mess. And this seems like as good a time as any to provide a link to a graphic of Antawn surrounded by Washington's 2008-09 team slogan: Character, Commitment, Connection.
The Orlando Magic: It took a 19-7 fourth-quarter run and an out-of-nowhere scoring spree by J.J. Redick to wipe out an eight-point deficit and pull out a three-point, come-from-behind home win over the Memphis Grizzlies. This team just isn't scaring me, you know?
O.J. Mayo: As noted, Redick was a big part of Orlando's fourth-quarter comeback...and Mayo provided the inspiration: "He was just telling me, 'I know you'll give us one (miss) even though you're the greatest college shooter ever, I've heard it all. It goes back to college. It's always the same stuff." Sometimes the trash talk doesn't work.
J.J. Redick: From the AP game recap: "J.J. Redick was feeling confident after sparking a late Orlando Magic rally over the Memphis Grizzlies. His smile was big, his hair was slick and he had an extra bounce in his step. So confident, in fact, Redick had the confidence afterward to wear a light-blue shirt complete with tight white pants and white shoes in a Magic locker room where poking fun at wardrobes is practically a hobby. 'Look at J.J., he's looking like he's in Miami Vice,' forward Rashard Lewis quipped, getting laughs from teammates." Fashion fail. Somebody needs to tell Wally Szczerbiak that J.J.'s stealing his shtick.
The Boston Celtics: I suppose you could make that argument that, considering how long the Celtics have been forced to play without Kevin Garnett, any win is a good win. Of course, if you did that, I would laugh at you, mock you, and then probably make some final joke that involved me having some sort of twisted sexual relations with your mother and/or sister. Playing at home against the Nets, Boston fell behind by 10 points early and later fell asleep after taking a 106-99 lead with 1:11 left. Vince Carter scored a quick 5 points -- off a three-ball and a steal-and-breakaway-layup -- to pull the Nets to within two points with 50 seconds left. Fortunately for the Celtics, who failed to convert a score on their next possession, Vinsanity pulled his usual shenanigans and tried to hit a step-back three with eight seconds left instead of, say, trying to get a good shot.
The New Jersey Nets: The fact that they put up a brave fight in enemy territory was more or less meaningless since the Pistons' victory in New York officially eliminated them from the postseason. The Nets are now 21-38 since Devin Harris said: "We knew we were going to be a playoff team." And now, at long last, the stat curse is complete.
The New York Knicks: These guys are only five games better than they were in 2007-08. Last night, in a home game, they let the Pistons shoot nearly 54 percent while only converting on 36 percent (32-for-88) of their field goals (which included 19 missed three-pointers). They were also murdalized on the boards 57-33. Quentin Richardson, Chris Duhon and David Lee combined for only 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting. And Lee was outrebounded 8-4 by Kwame Brown. So...are we ABSOLUTELY SURE that Isiah Thomas isn't still running the team? Seriously, we need to look into this. Meanwhile, Mike D'Antoni said his team "just sagged" and "didn't compete," then further added: "Our guys got overwhelmed and we lost a lot of our mojo and a lot of determination, which is inexcusable but it happens, and that's more or less the story of the game." Still a bad time to be a Knicks fan.
The Milwaukee Bucks: There will be no playoffs for the Milwaukee M.A.S.H. unit. Last night's loss to the Hawks -- in which they gave up 113 points on 53 percent shooting, the Bucks have lost four straight and are only 1-9 since March 15. It's enough to cause Scott Skiles to lose the three or four hairs he has left.
The Phoenix Suns: Their dramatic win over the Hornets smaked of "too little, too late"...since the Suns still got eliminated from the postseason for the first time since 2004 when Dallas defeated Utah to lock up the eighth and final playoff spot. It's so disappointing that I'm gonna have to recover before I can comment further...
The Hornets: That's three losses in their last four games, two of which happened in New Orleans. The Hornets are now sixth in the West, only a game ahead of the Jazz. Remember: They were supposed to challenge the Lakers for Western Conference supremacy this season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder have now lost four games in a row, all by double digits, and eight of their last 10. Oh, and they're 3-10 since Kevin Durant returned from injury. But he scored 31 points! OH MY GOD HE'S MADE TO SCORE. (But not dish, apparently, since he had zero assists.) Speaking of Durant...
Kevin Durant, crazy machine: Regarding last night's tough loss to the Nuggets: "We had a couple heartbreakers and we played them tough here, too,” Durant said. “They're a great team, a team that could be in the championship this year easily. So it does give us a lot of confidence." Did I get sucked into some weird parallel universe or something? Denver "could be in the championship this year easily"?
The Utah Jazz: Man, they are SO bad on the road. (Seven losses in their last nine tries.) The Mavs played them like a second-rate fiddle last night en route to a 130-101 win in which Dallas shot almost 55 percent and stole the ball 15 times (including a career-high 7 for Josh Howard). Said Deron Williams: "It was like they wanted it more, like the game meant more to them. It's disappointing." Added Jerry Sloan: "They just destroyed us. They deserved to win because we didn’t make it an contest for them." Speaking of Jerry...
Jerry Sloan, unintentionally dirty quote machine: "They beat us all night long." I...didn't know you were into that, Jerry.
Hubie Brown, mathematologist: Basketbawful reader Garron writes: "I love Hubie as a commentator, but this was one of the more un-eloquent remarks he has made during last nights Jazz / Mavs game: 'Ronnie Brewer is also one four guards who shoots over 50% of the field, along with Parker, Chris Paul and Rondo which is good company, otherwise there would only be three guards who shoot over 50% from the field.' At least we know he knows math."
The Golden State Warriors: A home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in which they got lit up by Sebastian Telfair (21 points, 9-for-17). Ugh, ugh and double-ugh. Said C.J. Watson: "It was pretty ugly. We stopped doing pretty much everything we wanted to do, moving the ball, playing defense, rebounding. Even running on the fast break, we stopped doing (that) in the third quarter." Added Don Nelson: "They just basically outplayed us all game long. Now, where's my beer?"
By the way, don't bother bringing up Monta Ellis' injury or that the T-Wolves have won three of their last four and four of six. You can add those little factoids to the list of things Dr. Cox doesn't care about.
Lacktion report: From Chris's brain to yours. Scary, huh?
Raptors-Pacers: Jake Voskuhl does it again in 5:11, earning his namesake stat at a Madsen-level ratio of 2:1 (fouls against board).
Blazers-Spurs: Jacque Vaughn wanted to add a third dimension to his life, so a Mario 64 should do it.
Wizards-Cavs: The Comatose Crustacean Crew did their job effectively once more, with Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson scoring a +1 suck differential (via foul) in 5:10 and Tarence Kinsey earning a +3 of his own in 2:46 through one foul, one giveaway, and a turnover from near Jacobs Field.
Grizzlies-Magic: The bear cubs continue to get All-Lacktion level performances from Greg Buckner, whose 7:23 netted him a singular giveaway for +1.
Hawks-Bucks: Thomas Gardner could barely get the zapper for Duck Hunt plugged in, as he only had a seven-second Super Mario to work with!
Kobe Bryant: Mamba made Adam Morrison and Luke Walton dress up like the Ambiguously Gay Duo for a week's worth of practices.