The Orlando Magic: The Magicians pulled out the victory, but you can file this under "Losses That Aren't As Good As Others." For the second straight game, Orlando built an 18-point lead over the Sixers. And for the second straight game, Philly came back, pulling to within 5 points late in the fourth quarter. And man, was the home crowd quiet. I'm talking "you could hear a mouse pee on cotton" quiet. The Magic held off the rally, thanks to some late-game heroics by Rashard Lewis (in particular his offensive rebound and put back with less than 30 ticks to go). But they gave the Sixers reason to be really, really confident going into Game 3 in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia 76ers: Sure, the successful comeback and the near-comeback were pretty inspiring and could qualify as confidence builders...but consistently falling behind by almost 20 points isn't exactly a proven formula for playoff success. Solid advice for the Sixers: Stop spotting your opponents a ginormous lead.
Dwight Howard: Superman fouled out with 3:11 remaining in the fourth quarter. Yes, it's always a great situation to be without your superstar, MVP-candidate and recently named Defensive Player of the Year down the stretch of a tight, must-win playoff game. Plus, even before he received his walking papers, Dwight was having a pretty average game: 11 points (4-for-6, 3-for-7 from the line), 10 boards, 2 assists. He did have game-high 4 blocks, though, but still, this game was the NBA-equivalent of Lois Lane being forced to defeat General Zod at the end of Superman II.
Samuel Dalembert: Now that he's gone assist-less in Philly's first two playoff games, his assist total for the past 31 games stands at 2. That's 0.06 APG. Yinka Dare is smiling down on you from Basketball Heaven, Sam.
Update! More on Dalembert from an anonymous commenter: "In addition to Sam Dalembert's assist numbers, it's also worth noting that he picked up 4 fouls (and a tech!) in nine minutes last night. Oh, and he was left on the bench so Theo Ratliff (who is, in fact, 36 years old) could defend Dwight Howard." More from Basketbawful reader bizarro: "He was totally crucified by ESPN journalists in their "extreme behaviour" section in Daily Dime: 'WEDNESDAY'S WORST -- Samuel Dalembert, Sixers: Philadelphia knew it was going to lose the starting center matchup against Dwight Howard, but this is ridiculous. Dalembert had just two points and no rebounds." Looks like ESPN is starting to like the bawful narrative style too. way to go bawful!" The takeover has begun. You've been warned.
Magic announcers (?): Basketbawful reader jj said: "One of the Magic announcers just called Theo Ratliff "one of the greatest shot blockers of all time". Dikimbe Mutombo is rolling over in his hospital bed." Well...Ratliff ranks 18th on the all-time list with 1902 career blocks. He's also 11th in BPG with 2.53 per. AND he's currently 3rd all-time in block percentage (an estimate of the percentage of opponent two-point field goal attempts blocked by the player while he was on the floor) at 7.25*. So, you know, by the numbers, Theo is up there...although it's worth noting they didn't track blocks back when Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were playing.
*Look at this murderer's row of a Top 5 in block percentage: Manute Bol (10.17), Shawn Bradley (7.83), Ratliff, Greg freaking Ostertag (6.97) and Mark Eaton (6.92). That sound you just heard was the wailing cry emanating from the Stilt's grave...
The Atlanta Hawks: Boy oh boy, the Heat looked seriously de-flamed after scoring a season-low 64 points in Game 1. That brutal defeat seemed to solidify the notion that the Hawks could not be beaten in Atlanta. I mean, hey, the Celtics weren't able to do it last season, and that team went on to win the NBA title. What hope did a crummy fifth seed have? Well, they had one big one named Dwyane Wade, who shook off whatever icks he had in the first game to score 33 points (11-for-20) to go along with 5 boards, 7 assists 2 blocks and (typically ) 5 turnovers. Wade hit six of his 10 three-point attempts, including one late-gamer that he accidentally banked in with the shot clock heading toward expiration. Said Wade: "I didn't call 'bank.' Just like everybody in the building, I'm not going to tell a story, I was shocked, too."
It was just that kind of night for the Hawks, who found themselves inexplicably down by 18 points in an arena where they thought they were invincible. They closed to within 5 points late in the fourth, but that was as close as they could get it before finally losing by 15. Atlanta's defense was dreadful: Miami nearly 56 percent of their shots (40-for-72), including almost 58 percent of their threes (15-for-26). Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal lit 'em up for 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Daequan Cook added 20 while going 7-for-12 from the field and 6-for-9 from downtown.
Bonus commentary from AnacondaHL: "Goodness Bawfulness! Not only was Al Horford, center, the leading assist man for Atlanta (5), but they allowed Jermaine O'Neal to become a presence on the inside. I repeat: Jermaine O'Neal was a key factor to Miami's win. Can we please just get to the LAL-CLE Finals already?"
The Hawks' real-life mascot got a little flying time during the playoffs.
"Spirit," an actual hawk that flies down from the rafters during the pre-game introductions, decided to hang around for the start of Game 2 against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
The bird was perched atop the scoreboard at tipoff, refusing to go to his handler. Then he swooped around the arena while the game was going on, landing on a railing in the lower deck before he settled on the top of the basket at the Hawks end of the court.
When the players spotted the bird, they refused to go on. The game was halted with 8:28 remaining in the first quarter until the handler finally arrived, luring Spirit to his arm and carrying him out of the arena to cheers from the crowd -- and several players.
Wait a tick. The PLAYERS refused to go on? You mean those big, bad millionaires were afraid of a hawk attack? Memo to NBA players everywhere: Hawks don't eat people. According to this story, hawk attacks are pretty rare and there's a better chance of getting harassed by MOCKINGBIRDS than hawks. Of course, the story lead is about a girl who WAS attacked by a hawk...and ended up with a concussion. Said even assumed that she had been hit "with a log or something really hard and heavy." Wait, what?! Who assumes they've been hit with a log??
Update! Bonus bawful from Mladen, who sent in a few lines from the AP recap: "The players weren't to eager to play the game with a bird of prey staring down at them. Atlanta's Josh Smith and Al Horford looked more shaken than anyone. 'You see Al Horford duck and run, I was like, 'Let me run for cover as well,' Wade said. 'It was kind of weird having the hawk fly around. It's hard to play with your back to that hawk on the backboard.' Turns out, the real hawk showed more aggressiveness than any of the players wearing Hawks across the front of their jerseys..."
But wait, there's more! Mladen also had a close encounter of the lacktive kind last night:
I just had to share this with you.
I will never wash my hand again (actually, I'm lying - I washed it about 15 times by now), because it shook the hand of a lacktion superstar!
You see, I live in Serbia, and have already seen my share of NBA "stars" (in fact, I had a pretty weird stare down moment with Darko "Embarassing my own country beyond belief" Milicic at a local club men's room...). I've even had a chance to check out Michael Beasley before he was drafted, when he was playing in the U19 World Championship in my city. (Team USA got schooled by Team Serbia.)
It's really not weird for me to see African-American athletes around town, so I wasn't really phased when, last night, I went out with a friend who hangs out with the two American players that have had the pleasure and privilege of playing (and mostly losing) for the local team. So, the guy comes up to me, introduces himself, and we shake hands. I couldn't hear his name, so I asked my friend, and she said "Hassan Adams".
I spent the next 15 minutes trying to figure out why does that name sound so familiar. Yep. That's right. I hung out with THE Hassan Adams. The guy that averaged a trillion at one point in his stellar carrier. I could almost cry...I'm only sorry that I can't provide pictures, but I'm sure you'll believe me. On the other hand, I can provide a very interesting fact: Hassan's stats with the ladies here are just as bawful. (According to a relieable source.)
Oh, Mladen, you CANNOT drop such a brutal tease on us and then not give up a little of the, ahem, juicier "advanced statistics" on our boy Hassan. If you don't want them to appear on the main page, we do have a comments section...
Jamaal Magloire: The former all-star center -- I swear, it happened...he even had 19 points, 8 rebounds, a steal and a block in the 2004 All-Star Game -- logged 11 minutes and 16 seconds without scoring a single point, collecting a single rebound or blocking a single shot. He did commit a couple fouls, tho'.
The New Orleans Hornets: And to think, people were calling this team "great" as recently as earlier this season. But last night they suffered their second straight double-digit loss in Denver to fall behind 2-0 in their best-of-seven first round series with the Nuggets. And -- get this! -- Chauncey Billups is killing Chris Paul. KILLING HIM. Billups, who scored 36 points and went 8-for-9 from beyond the arc in Game 1, scored a game-high 31 points while going 8-for-15 from the field, 4-for-6 from three and 11-for-11 from the line. Meanwhile, CP3 scored only 14 (5-for-11) and had a game-high 5 turnovers...nearly equaling the output of the entire Nuggets team. And to think, I said Paul was going to make Chauncey look old in this series. What a boner!
On the subject of TOs, New Orleans committed 17, which led to 23 bonus points for the Nuggets. Denver, on the other hand, bumbled the ball away only 6 times, giving up a single point. The playoffs are all about ball control...and the Hornets are way out of control.
George Karl, "What the hell is he SAYING?" machine: Regarding the rather amazing play of Mr. Big Shot: "I do want to kind of apologize. I said he's a player without skills (after the series opener). He's very skilled. But he plays the game without skills a lot. He plays the game with a brain, and a teamness, a point guard leadership. Then he figures out when to put the skills in the game. I'm happy he's putting a few more skills on the court lately. It's pretty cool." That's nice...I think?
Joe Dumars: In addition to the scoring and leadership, here are some other fun Billups facts: This is the first time Billups has had consecutive turnover-free playoff games in the same year in his career. His dozen three-pointers are a Nuggets franchise best for any playoff series. And he's knocked down 57 straight free throws overall. Meanwhile, his trading counterpart, Allen Iverson, was banished from Detroit for the betterment of the Pistons as a team. I would be willing to bet that there's a lot of throwing up in one's own mouth going on in the Dumars household right about now.
Lacktion report: And back at the Hall of Justice, Chris consults the Bat Computer for the latest lactivity updates...
Sixers-Magic: Samuel Dalembert did make a field goal and blocked a shot in 8:56, but four fouls left him with a 4:2 Voskuhl.
Heat-Hawks: Jamaal Magloire had one assist in 11:16, only to contribute little else except a pair of fouls for a 2:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.
THE Mario West gets his first mention in Nintendo Power Magazine this postseason with a 30-second Mario!
Hornets-Nuggets: Hilton Armstrong reserved a place in the lacktion report tonight with a +3 in 4:23 via brick, rejection, and foul.
Denver's Jason Hart circulated enough just enough copies of Metal Gear to score himself a 59 second Mario, also recorded as a +1 via brick.
The Chicago Tribune: You want to know one big reason why newspapers are failing? I'm glad you asked:
While the Chicago Tribune laid off more than 10 percent of its news staff Wednesday, the paper's corporate overlords sought bankruptcy court approval of a plan to pay $13 million in bonuses to top managers.
Tribune Co., operating under Chapter 11, said in court documents that the bonuses are essential for executives who provided "extraordinary contributions during an exceptionally difficult year" in 2008. They would be shared by 700 managers throughout the company, excluding its 10 top officers.
The average bonus would be $18,273, which the company noted is down sharply from prior years. In its filing, it said 16 percent would get more than $30,000.
Meanwhile, newsroom employees at the media giant's flagship had their own morale issues as managers conducted the biggest one-day purge since real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell took over the company. The layoffs are a response to declines in advertising revenue, a fate shared by media companies across the country.
(From print edition only) Tribune Co. said managers deserve bonuses for masterminding cuts that bolstered cash flow. It said that in 2008, the company cut 13 percent of its jobs, or 2,400 positions.
So, to recap, a major metropolitan newspaper undergoing bankruptcy proceedings just axed 10 percent of its news staff while asking the government for special permission to dole out $13 million in BONUSES to executives who brilliantly MASTERMINDED firing people who made much, much less money than they do. That's just...great.
After suffocating her lover, Nicole Abusharif hid Becky Klein's body in the trunk of the couple's 1966 Ford Mustang, DuPage County prosecutors said Wednesday.
Hours later, Abusharif gave another girlfriend a present to show how serious she was about her: a car key.
"It was the ignition key to the Ford Mustang where Becky's body was lying entombed," prosecutor Joseph Ruggiero told jurors as Abusharif's murder trial opened in Wheaton.
Abusharif, 28, is accused of using duct tape and a plastic bag to smother her long-term partner on March 15, 2007, at their Villa Park home. After the murder, she allegedly dumped Klein's body in the car, which was parked in a garage at their house.
Abusharif, Ruggiero said, left after the slaying to meet the woman -- whom she had been seeing for a year -- in a Palos Park bar. She brought her back later that night to the home she had shared with Klein.
"Within an hour of killing her life partner, what did the defendant do? She went out with her new girlfriend," he said. Abusharif faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
I once watched a video about lesbian suffocation, and it wasn't anything like this. But...perhaps I've said too much.
A man witnesses said was dressed like a ninja used a sword in an attempt to rob a dry cleaner on Main Street, police said.
The man, wearing a ski mask and a sword in a sheath on his belt, walked into the Tedeschi convenience store at 1039 Main St. around 8 a.m. Monday, Sgt. Richard Fuller said.
"All the witnesses said he was dressed like a ninja," Fuller said. "He was in all black including the black ski mask. And they said it was a 'ninja sword' (he was carrying)."
A clerk, alarmed by the man's appearance, called police. When the man noticed her, he pulled his mask off and asked if she was calling about him, Fuller said.
When she said she was, the man left the store and walked into nearby Galaxy Cleaners.
There, Fuller said he pointed a sword at the register and asked a clerk to give him all of the money inside. She told him she couldn’t open the drawer, and the man left the scene, Fuller said.
Said Henry: "My favorite part of that whole thing is that he went to a Dry Cleaners. Any real ninja looking for some extra cash would have the decency to knock over a gun shop or a biker bar or something." I agreed, and further suggested that no self-respecting ninja would perpetrate a crime that would leave fewer than 20 horribly mutilated dead bodies in its wake.
Now, I'm not saying for certain that Weymouth's mystery ninja is in mortal danger from real ninjas seeking retribution for his attack on their honor. After all, 100 percent of everything we actually know about ninjas is just pure guesswork, so artful and cunning are they in hiding their existence from the world at large. (To date, forensic experts have been unable to uncover even a single piece of biological evidence to prove ninjas are real. This is mostly because they are hairless, skinless, and they neither poop nor pee.) But I will tell you this: If somebody at some point finds this man's lifeless body riddled with Chinese throwing stars that disappear in the twinkle of an eye, leaving no trace that they ever existed, forcing authorities to explain the death away as "natural causes" even though it seems as though he might have died of pure fear...well, I won't be surprised.
Charley Hill: Never heard of him? I'm not surprised. He's the 19-year-old boyfriend of Linda Bollea...a.k.a., Hulk Hogan's wife. As Basketbawful reader Axel Foley said in response to yesterday's post: "Who the hell bones the Hulkster's wife? What a dick. I would definitely be willing to deliver a beating on Hogan's behalf." I agree. And I'll probably just do that if I ever run into him. There are certain things nobody should do, like poop in Santa's hat, dress like gay Tron and do the dirty with Mrs. Hulk. Of course, note that Linda had to find a boyfriend who was young enough to probably not have an incurable case of Hulkamania. A Hulkamaniac would punch himself in the genitals until death before defiling Hogan's wife.