The Philadelphia 76ers: Count 'em up: That's four straight losses since Philly clinched a playoff berth. And they gave up a season-high 18 points (including 4-for-4 three-point shooting) to Wally Szczerbiak. And I gotta tell you, it's hard to have much confidence in a team that can't stop Wally World in a really-need-to-win game. And suddenly their hopes of moving up to fifth have turned into fears of falling to as far as eighth.
Samuel Dalembert: Sammy's selfish streak continued with zero assists in 30 minutes of action. Dalembert now has exactly 1 assist in his last 26 games (versus 152 shot attempts and 37 turnovers). Dude has didn't have an assist in the entire month of March (15 games). Crazy.
Ironic fun fact: Check out this quote I found on the official Web site for The Samuel Dalembert Foundation: "God has been so kind to me, I prayed, and He answered. There are countless ways for me to give back in life, especially with the blessings of basketball, and I intend to do that in any way that I can." How about you start with passing the ball, Sam?
The Indiana Pacers: They were officially eliminated from the playoffs after letting the Hawks score 122 points on 52 percent shooting. Think defense might have been the problem? For the season, Indy is 2-19 when opponents shoot 50 percent or better. Yeah.
Mario West: The original Sub-minute Man got his first start of the season because Maurice Evans was out of town due to the death of his grandmother. Sadly, Mario was more of a Luigi, or maybe Toad. In 14 minutes of daylight, he finished with more fouls and turnovers (8) than points, rebounds and assists (5). He also tied Zaza Pachulia for the worst plus-minus score on the team (-8)...and Zaza missed half the game with a back injury. Sad face.
But wait, there's more! From Basketbawful reader J.T. Magee: "You're gonna want to see the Tj Ford-to-Stephen Graham alley-oop from the 1st quarter. It was nasty, only because Super Mario West decided to try and block the dunk attempt. Attempt failed. Miserable."
The Charlotte Bobcats: With all of their playoff hopes riding on a road victory over the 21-win Thunder, the Bobcats came up four points short after shooting 33 percent and getting creamed on the boards (50-39). Oh, and the Thunder -- who snapped a six-game losing streak at the Ford Center -- stuffed 10 shots (including 4 in the final quarter)...which was one swat off their season-high. Charlotte coach Larry Brown said his guys just didn't bring it: "In their mind, I'm sure they thought they were out there trying. But you can't go on the road and not play with unbelievable effort right from the start." Not if you want to win, no.
The Toronto Raptors and Shawn Marion: From Andy: "Shawn Marion and the Raptors deserve WotW honors for their super-awesome defense on the final possession against the Wizards: 16 seconds left, they give no pressure on Caron Butler, who casually walks the ball around until settling in to his favorite spot on the floor, nearly the exact same spot where he hit a game-winner over Indiana. He drives on Marion, does the most predictable crossover (he did the same move earlier in the game) and loses Marion easily, hits the wide open shot (Marion just watches, doesn't even bother running at him), game over. No help, even though it's obvious Caron has no intention of passing the ball." No joke. Watch the bawfulness unfold:
Now check out this ridiculous quote from Chris Bosh: "I think Shawn played good defense but [Butler] just made a tough shot." Uh, I think you'd better go back and watch the tape, Chris.
The Orlando Magic: Well, then. It turns out that barely beating the Grizzlies at home on Wednesday was indeed a harbinger of bawful to come. And come it did, only not in the "massage parlor happy ending" kind of way, but in the "embarrassing 10-point home loss to the New York Knicks" way. And it was more than embarrassing, it was potentially crippling, as it almost certainly cost the Magicians a shot at the East's second seed, since they now trail Boston by two games with three to play. Said Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy: "If we play the way we did these last two home games, there's not a team in the league we can win a series against. We're playing awful basketball. There's not going to be anything magical happening at the start of the playoffs. I've never been a big flip the switch guy. But that's what our guys are trying to do now." Real bad news if you're a Magic fan.
The Phoenix Suns: Now that they've been officially eliminated from the NBA playoffs, all the Suns have left to play for is pride. And if their effort against the Grizzlies in Memphis is any indication, pride isn't a source of, er, pride for them. Phoenix missed 10 free throws, got beaten on the boards (45-37), committed 22 turnovers -- three short of its season high -- and got blown out in the second half. It was the Grizzlies' first victory over the Suns since December 17, 2005. Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry, who has decided it's time to develop the team's bench, didn't play the starters in the fourth quarter. Said Jason Richardson: "These games really aren't meaning anything for us. Even though we want to win them, just let (the reserves) go out and get some minutes."
The New Jersey Nets: Even though they're already eliminated from the postseason, and even though Lawrence Frank is letting the young guys get some burn, I still have to update this: The Nets are now 21-39 since Devin Harris (1 points, 0-for-5, 2 assists in 20 minutes) uttered the words: "We knew we were going to be a playoff team."
The Utah Jazz: As dark as these last several days have been for the Spurs, they've been even darker for the Jazz, whose 105-99 loss in San Antonio -- their fifth defeat in the last six games -- dropped them into sole possession the West's dreaded eighth playoff position, a.k.a., the "Lakers' hors' dourves" spot. Few teams have been more disappointing this season than the Jazz. Although one of those teams is definitely...
The New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul did just about everything humanly possible -- 42 points (14-for-25), 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals -- but his team came up a wee bit short. David West (20 points on 8-for-20 shooting) was the only other Hornet to reach double-figures, and New Orleans was -16 in the Battle of the Boards. In fact, Dallas had 20 offensive rebounds and Brandon Bass snared a career-high 13. Oh, and outside of Paul's dimes, there wasn't much in the way of ball movement either, since the non-CP3 assist total was 2. Said Paul: "It's the second time in the last few games where I had 40-something points and we lost. It's not about how I do. It's about how we do." Unfortunately for him, he's right.
The Los Angeles Lakers: L.A.'s Rose Garden curse continued with their 106-98 defeat, a loss that will probably further fuel the flames within the souls of the Blazer faithful, who don't see why their boys can't claw past the Lakers to reach the Finals. And with the way L.A. plays in Portland, it's no wonder. Said Mamba: "Even when we're having championship runs, we usually come up here and get our butts kicked. They play us tough here." And make no mistake, Kobe was a big part of the loss. With L.A. trailing 101-98 with 48 seconds left, he took one of his patented "I'm winning this thing" three-pointers and missed. On the Lakers next possession, Mamba threw a bad pass that got pilfered by LaMarcus Aldridge. He also bonked a 24-footer with 11 seconds left, which was pretty much all she wrote.
The Sacramento Kings: From Basketbawful reader Ace: "I think that all of us, including you, need to apologize to the Sacramento Kings. All this time, we thought that they were a bunch a guys who didn't know how to win basketball games. Last night's game against the Clippers they proved us all wrong. They proved that they are not basketball players but inventors. Inventors who come up with new and improved ways to lose every single night. Just when you thought they invented their best loss, they come the next night and invent something even BETTER. How else can you explain the Kings making Brain Skinner look like Dwight Howard? How else can you explain them giving up 106 points on 56 percent shooting to the CLIPPERS? The freaking CLIPPERS! The next Nobel Peace prize is going to the Kings. Mark my words."
Indeed. Skinner scored a season-high 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting to go along with 10 boards and 3 blocks. I should also note that in addition to losing by 31 to the Clippers, the Kings shot 32 percent and bricked eight free throws in an all-around failtacular. It was Sacto's seventh straight defeat. Their record fell to an NBA-worst 16-63. And Kings coach Kenny Natt is going berserk. "This game was an absolute embarrassment and I just told the players that. I was embarrassed from the standpoint of our organization and everything we stand for. I was embarrassed at the way we went out and did not play tonight and it will not continue." Not with you as coach, anyway.
Friday lacktivity report: Chris serves a fresh flapjack of lacktion:
Pacers-Hawks: Thomas Gardner raked in a 1.3 trillion fortune for the playoff-bound Hawks, while Indiana's Jeff Foster botched his bench stint as big man in 20:22 - five fouls and a giveaway against one made field goal (in four attempts) and a trio of boards led to a 6:5 Voskuhl.
Heat-Celtics: Joel Anthony put on his Tanooki suit for a 28-second Mario.
Bobcats-Thunder: Cartier Martin explored the depths of lacktivity with a single visit to Oklahoma City's Bricktown for a +1 suck differential in 2:06. Martin's teammate with the Bobcats, Nazr Mohammed, earned a 2:0 Voskuhl (despite a steal) in 5:09 by taking two fouls and bricking twice from the charity stripe.
Wizards-Raptors: Patrick O'Bryant, the most important acquisition for the Craptors this year (at least on the lacktion front), delivered a +1 (foul) in 6:02, also qualifying for a Madsen-level 1:0 Voskuhl.
Knicks-Magic: Chris Wilcox bricked three times in 12:54, allowing him to earn a slight Voskuhl of 3:2 (two fouls and one giveaway against two boards).
Suns-Grizzlies: Darius Miles missed from downtown once for a +1 in 2:21.
Jazz-Spurs: George Hill and Marcus Williams were out chasing Koopa shells with a 12 second stint as Mario Brothers! And Kurt Thomas did make one shot in 14:13, only to foul five times for a 5:2 Voskuhl.
Hornets-Mavs: Julian Wright flew onto the court tonight to collect a 3.35 trillion fortune, while Hilton Armstrong spent 8:55 seated in the lobby of lame with a Madsen-level Voskuhl of 2:1 (fouls against a board and brick).
Lakers-Blazers: Jordan Farmar is a surprising name for the lacktion report...but in 5:14, he bricked twice, gave up the rock once, and took a foul for a +4.
The Detroit Pistons: They shot 50 percent from the field and beyond the arc but still lost to the Pacers in Indianapolis, dropping two games below .500 (39-41) not to mention a full game behind the Bulls for the East's seventh seed and a date with first-round disaster. Not that the players care. Said Richard Hamilton: "It really don't matter to us, to tell you the truth." Added Tayshaun Prince: "I don't think being the eight-seed that we're in a situation we can't handle." Huh. There's confidence and then there's painfully distorted view of reality. I'll let you judge where this one falls.
The Orlando Magic: Ooooookay. Maybe Shaq knew what he was talking about with all that "front runner" nonsense from a month ago. Orlando's 103-93 loss to the Nets in New Jersey was their second straight and third in four games...and it officially eliminated them from contention for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Oh, and Hedo Turkoglu had to be carried off the court after he sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter. Sad trombone.
How bad was the not-so-Magic D? The Nets drilled 54 percent of their shots, including 55 percent from downtown, and accumulated 27 assists on 38 buckets. Said Stan Van Gundy: "It was terrible. We're playing with no energy and lack of defensive commitment. When you do that you're going to get killed and we got dominated tonight." And he means leather ball-gag, candle-wax-on-the-nipples, forced-to-drink-your-own-urine dominated. Unless you're into that, in which case he means something else.
Vince Carter, hypocrite machine: From Basketbawful reader Justin T: "On the Nets upset of the Magic: 'We are playing to win,' Carter said. 'I don't want to disrespect the game. I want to give an effort and come to play.' The irony. It burrrrrrrns." In related news, the entire population of Toronto threw up in their own mouths on Saturday night...
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Is the season over yet? It sure seems like it, the way the T-Wolves played against the Suns in an ugly 110-97 home loss. Minny tied a season low for points in a quarter by scoring only 8 points in the first 12 minutes. During that Quarter of Doom, they shot 14 percent (3-for-21) and didn't hit a shot in the final 7:25 of the period despite, as the Associated Press put it, "playing against one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams." Said Timberwolves coach Kevin McHale: "Just a terrible effort from start to finish. Hard to account for it. ... No bright spots. Nothing. I'm not thinking down the road, I'm just thinking of how disgusted I was to watch that game. You feel bad for your fans. To come out on a Saturday evening and that's what you watch, there's no excuse for that."
McHale wasn't done there. He continued by laying waste to rookie Kevin Love. Despite the fact that Love has been one of the few bright spots in Minnesota this season, McHale played him only 20 minutes because he didn't like his effort. "If I could have played 10 other guys, I would played them. Unfortunately we didn't have 10 other people. I could've got people out of the stands, but I'm not sure that's legal." Yep, it's official. McHale has finally gone postal. I sure hope they don't sell shotguns anywhere Kevin shops.
The Charlotte Bobcats: I'll give the 'Cats this much: Despite having nothing whatsoever to play for, they arrived in Chicago hellbent on beating the Bulls. And they might very well have done that, except that they melted down in the fourth quarter like a brick of government cheese, which is kind of a misleading analogy, since government cheese wouldn't melt in a volcano and was (I suspect) an advanced form of alien life scouting our planet for a hostile takeover. Anyway, Charlotte committed 8 of their 16 turnovers in the final 12 minutes, during which they were outscored 35-23 and lost by seven. I'll let you do that math on that one. Regarding his team's terminal case of butterfingeritis, Larry Brown said: "I can't explain it because it's not like we’re being trapped or pressed. We just throw it all around." As a Bulls fan and blogger, I was happy to see the Bobcats hand over the game...but damn.
The Utah Jazz: You know that scene in Star Wars -- I refuse to call it Episode IV, by the way -- when Obi-Wan Kenobi just lets Darth Vader cut him in half, and then Vader nudges Ben's robe with his shiny boot just to make sure the old man is dead? That's what it feels like opponents are doing to the Jazz these days. The Warriors -- who were without Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Jamal Crawford, Corey Maggette and whoever else you wanna name -- played just seven men and still pulled out a 118-108 victory in Utah, where the Jazz are supposed to be invincible. Unless New Orleans or Dallas chokes in the next couple days, Utah is going to be stuck in the eighth and final...make that fatal...playoff spot. Said Deron Williams: "This is bad. I just don't know what's going on right now with us. We're just limping into the playoffs. It's like we're kind of content with being there and being the eighth seed instead of trying to better ourselves."
The Los Angeles Clippers: The Clips weren't playing the Sacramento Kings, which means, first of all, that their winning streak ended at one game, and, secondly, that they are indeed who we thought they were.
Saturday lacktivity report: Chris still gave us a quick couple lacktion munchies on a short night.
Pistons-Pacers: Walter Hermann fouled once for a +1 suck differential in 4:56.
Suns-Wolves: Despite a steal and a block, Mark Madsen fouled once for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl in 7:09.
The Boston Celtics: If KG comes back healthy for the playoffs, maybe everybody will forget this game. But for one Sunday in Cleveland, the defending champs looked more like the 24-win squad that preceded Danny Ainge's extreme makeover of the franchise. The Celtics were never in the game, as the Crabs built a 31-9 lead by the end of the first quarter and then coasted in for a 107-76 victory...their biggest win every over Boston (a span of 173 games). But while the final outcome didn't provide any drama, certain aspects of the game sure did...
Cleveland's grandstanding: The Crabs have been rolling around on the sidelines and basically acting like a bunch of children most of the season, but the hotdogging hit an all-time high -- or, more accurately, an all-time low -- during the Boston Teabag Party. As the AP put it:
When the Cavs reserves pushed the lead to 30, James, Mo Williams and Delonte West boogied together during a timeout as Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" pumped through the arena. The trio wasn't shy about things as they mugged for TV cameras to the roaring crowd's delight.
At the other end of the floor, the Celtics sat stoically while watching the Cavs' clown around.
"I'm always going to remember that," Ray Allen said. "If I beat a team, as happy as I may be in victory, I'm always going to stay humble and always remember that there's another day. We play each other too much. Those are great motivational thoughts for me."
James insisted the Cavs weren't being irreverent toward the league's most storied franchise.
"We're not trying to disrespect any team or show up any team," he said. "We're all professionals. If you take it as disrespectful, then you got to do something about it."
So in one breath LeBron claims he's not being disrespectful, and in the next he issues a schoolyard challenge. Whatever. I call shenanigans. Let me put it this way: If I was playing pickup ball, hell, if I was playing NBA Live on the PS3, and my opponent started pulling that garbage while blowing me out, I would want to punch that person or persons in the mouth or stuff them into a wood chipper, Eminem-style. But here's a better barometer. If a Little League team acted like that, the coaches and parents would scold them for their behavior...assuming the coaches and parents actually teach sportsmanship.
Anderson Varejao versus Ray Allen: As if things weren't getting ugly enough, Sideshow Bob hooked Ray-Ray's arm during a third-quarter free throw and then flung him to the floor. Allen responded by going for a nut shot. Yeah.
Said Ray: "It was a dirty play. He locked my arm and threw me to the ground. I wasn't going to allow him to think he could do whatever he wanted. I'm always going to stand up for myself. It's one thing for a team to be beating us, but they're not going to walk all over us." Responded Varejao: "You don't hit a man in his (groin). He doesn't like Brazilians or he doesn't like my hair." So apparently Andy's only okay with cheap shots that don't involve the genitals. Got it.
Bill Walker: Swatted. Violently. By Wally Szczerbiak. A fitting end to this debacle. (Thanks to DKH for the link.)
The Dallas Mavericks: You might remember that when the Hornets lost in Dallas on Friday night despite Chris Paul's 42/9/7, Paul said: "It's not about how I do. It's about how we do." Well, CP3 proved himself wrong during Sunday's rematch with the Mavs in the Big Easy by going off for 31 points, 9 rebounds and 17 assists...pretty much single-handedly destroying Dallas in the process. And I don't mean just the team, I'm talking about the entire city of Dallas AND the entire 357-episode run of the TV series (retroactively). And here's some fun with simple math for you: On the weekend, Paul lit the Mavs up for 73 points, 18 boards and 24 assists. Said Rick Carlisle: "We tried everything. We were trapping him...pretty much the whole fourth quarter. He just found ways to either draw fouls or get the ball to other people. That's what great players do. He was great down the stretch." Down the stretch, up the stretch, over the stretch, under it, on top of it, humping the living hell out of it. That was ultimate destruction. Statistical aside: New Orleans hit nearly 56 percent of their shots.
The Philadelphia 76ers: They suffered their fifth straight defeat in Toronto. All five losses have come after they clinched a playoff berth...and it represents their longest losing streak of the season. They've now fallen into a tie with the Bulls for the sixth spot in the East with games against the Celtics and Crabs still to go. Uh oh. Statistical aside: Philly let the Craptors shoot over 53 percent and Andrea Bargnani had a career-high six blocks. Oh, and they let Toronto score 31 points off turnovers. Speaking of which...
Andre Iguodala: One of the main reasons the Sixers finished the game with more turnovers (19) than assists (18) is because Iggy committed a season-high 10! Memo to whoever will be coaching in Philadelphia next season: Don't let Iguodala play basketball with butter-soaked hands. That is all.
Samuel Dalembert: Make it 1 assist in his last 27 games (versus 159 shot attempts and 39 turnovers). In related news, forensic analysis has confirmed that there's only one set of prints on that ball.
The New York Knicks: They'd already been humiliated by both Kobe (61 points) and King Crab (52 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists), and yesterday was Dwyane Wade's turn. Pookie went off for a career-high 55 points, which included a career-best with six three-pointers. Basically, the Knicks have been a bunch of basketball props all season. They're like cardboard cutouts on defense, only with fewer dimensions.
After the explosion, an anonymous commenter sent in an excerpt from Cavs: The Blog: "My MVP venting of the night: Wade dropped 55 and 4 assists (63 total points) on a comically bad Knicks defense in a game that means absolutely nothing for that team. It will be made into a big deal tonight. It’s a pretty number. Chris Paul put up 37/9/17 (71 total points created) with 1 turnover and 86% TS in a game that matters to them for playoff positioning. You can't play better than that. There is not a level above that. That's maybe the best box-score line of the SEASON. The leads? 'Wade explodes for 55' and 'Paul, West give Hornets edge over Mavericks.'"
Ah, but an assist isn't supposed to be worth as much as a point, right? I mean, John Hollinger's PER formula only uses 2/3 of an assist, so you have to shave off, like, 6 of CP3's assists, which reduces his total by 12 points. Then I'm sure some idiot will argue that some of Paul's assists weren't really assists, so wipe out another 3 or 4 dimes. Off comes another 6 or 8 points. Therefore the power of advanced stats and in-depth analysis really shows that Paul's game was average at best.
Random thought: Shouldn't Hollinger's formula be updated to reduce the value of points scored against defenseless teams like the Knicks? Seriously, every FG scored against, say, New York or Phoenix should be worth, like, 1/25 of a "normal" field goal, right? Discuss.
Mike D'Antoni, unintentionally dirty quote machine: Regarding D-Wade's double-nickel: "When you have a guy like him, you can just ride him."
More lousy NBA officiating: Think the Sacramento Kings' season couldn't possibly get any worse? Think again:
That the referees counted Michael Finley's three good without the benefit of replay...that's perfect. It seemed like a joke when the refs moved on with the game, and Randy Brown had to tell Andres Nocioni to go to the huddle. When Shareef Abdur-Rahim asked Danny Crawford, "That was late. Watch the replay." "We can't," Crawford replied. "Oh," said Abdur-Rahim. I mean, it seemed like everyone was like -- "Ok, joke's over, review it and reverse it." Like Crawford would keep a straight face walking up to Kenny Natt ... and then pull out a gun with daisies coming out of the barrel. "HA! HA! You shoulda seen the look on your face! Of course we'll review it."
Sadly, as has been the case this entire season, that was no joke.
For those that missed it, game tied at 92. S.A. ball, roughly 2.5 seconds separate the game and shot clocks. Sacramento's defense stifles Tony Parker's penetration (a true rarity), and T.P. kicks out to Michael Finley with one tick left on the shot clock. Finley rises ... the shot clock goes off ... Finley fires, in. Crawford, the nearest referee, is watching Finley's feet. He counts it good. The other two refs don't dispute it. Review shows the shot clock expired by at least a half-second. No matter, as a shot clock play isn't reviewable by the refs. The Kings get the ball with 1.3 seconds, and Nocioni airballs the wing three.
Now watch, dear readers, sing a chorus of My Freeze Ray as Michael Finley makes time stand still:
Even Gregg Popovich admitted the call was bogus. "I looked on the film, and it looked like it was still in his hand. I didn't study it, but I looked real quickly, and it looked like it was still in his hands."
Pau Gasol: Look at the Spanish Marshmallow try to cock block that old guy by hitting on his wife/girlfriend/whatever while sitting on the poor dude's lap. Disgraceful.
Kobe Bryant: Mamba totally put Pau up to it.
Update! Sunday lacktion report: He was out late on Sunday, but Chris still came through:
Mavs-Hornets: Morris Peterson fouled once in 6:43 for a +1 suck differential. Sean Marks earned a slight Voskuhl in 7:13 of 3:2 (two fouls and a giveaway against one board).
Sixers-Raptors: Kareem Rush quickly accrued a +2 in 4:02 via three-point brick and foul.
Knicks-Heat: Chris Quinn and Dorell Wright became twin inheritors after each taking home a 1.1 trillion keep.
Spurs-Kings: Fabricio Oberto fabulously bricked and fouled once each for a +2 in 5:23 (also earning him a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl), while Cedric Simmons entertainingly brought back a 1.65 trillion.
Grizzlies-Lakers: Adam Morrison fouled once and bricked twice (once from the Library Tower) for a +3 in 6:26. And teammate Josh Powell did get two boards in 8:27, not enough to overcome a bit of a Voskuhl at 3:2 thanks to two fouls, one turnover, and two missed shots.