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The Detroit Pistons: They took their best shot at actually winning a game in this series, holding the Crabs to 41 percent field goal accuracy and limiting them to 9 third-quarter points. They were also aided and abetted by a Cleveland team that shanked 11 free throws and missed 18 of their 22 three-point attempts. Sadly, the Pistons connected on only 38 percent of their own shots, and they weren't able to contain LeBron (25 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) or even Joe Beast, who had a career playoff-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. And now Detroit, a team that has advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for six straight seasons, is on the brink of being swept away like stale breadcrumbs. Said The Phantom of Auburn Hills: "This is killing me. I can't even lie. ... It's killing me -- just the simple fact -- how great we were, being down 0-3, being the eighth seed and watching them celebrate shot after shot."
Rasheed Wallace: His lifeless, "I really don't give a f*** anymore" performance was best summed up by this line from the AP recap: "The 34-year-old Wallace scored just five points, looking past his prime, banged up and uninterested." 'Sheed does realize it's a contract year, right?!
Detroit fans: From the AP game notes: "Between the third and fourth quarters, an altercation led to one fan landing the hardest punch at The Palace since the infamous 2004 brawl in which the Indiana Pacers tussled with the Pistons and their fans." Happy times in the Motor City.
LeBron James: I can't find YouTube of this, strangely enough, but King Crab got his junk stuffed by Kwame Brown. Kwame Brown!
The Orlando Magic: Letting the Sixers shoot 52 percent for the game was bad enough, but check out this end-of-game defense on Thaddeus Young's game-winner:
First off, why were they playing chest-to-chest on that guy? He was 2-for-7 for the game and hadn't even attempted a three-pointer. The Magicians also seemed to forget that Young is a lefty. Bad stuff, man. And shouldn't the newly crowned Defensive Player of the Year be able to protect the rim in the closing seconds of a critical playoff game? Of course, Orlando would have been in a better position if they hadn't fallen behind by 17 points. Said Stan Van Gundy: "We were badly outplayed for 30 minutes. We're lucky to even be in the situation we're in. They had no trouble scoring on us and other than Dwight, we didn't do much offensively." No kidding. The Magic shot 42 percent from the field...and that number drops to 33 percent if you subtract Dwight Howard's 12-for-16 performance.
The Orlando Magic broadcasters: From Basketbawful reader Rahul: "Dude, you have to include this. It just happened. Commentator said: 'Tony DiLeo is not happy with the penetration he is getting right now.' I am ok with the increased access nowdays the media has, but this is just too much information."
The Portland Trail Blazers: Yao Ming finished with more turnovers (3) than field goals (2) and scored only 7 points...but the Blazers still lost 86-83 to fall behind two games to one in their best-of-seven series with the Rockets. Their big guns seemed to be shooting with blinders on, as Brandon Roy (who was harassed relentlessly by Ron Artest and Shane Battier) went 6-for-18, LaMarcus Aldridge was 6-for-15 and Travis Outlaw finished 2-for-11. If it wasn't for the nine three-pointers they got out of Rudy Fernandez and Steve Blake, Portland probably would have been blown out.
Yao Ming: The Blazers have poked a few bricks out of the Great Wall, reducing the nine-foot giant to the third or fourth-best player on the team. Said Yao: "Tough for me. Almost like a sandwich." Mmmm. Yao sandwich. Just, uh, hold the mayo, okay?
Adam Morrison versus Sasha Vujacic: Even the 'Stache hates Douchacic. Seriously:
During Lakers' practice on Friday, Adam Morrison and Sasha Vujacic shoved one another with Morrison threatening over and over, "you grab my shirt one more time..."
"You should have seen it when I used to go at it with Shaq," Kobe Bryant said afterward.
Phil Jackson found the Morrison-Vujacic altercation amusing, according to witness Frank Isola.
Saturday lacktivity report: Chris continues to prove that the playoffs really aren't complete without lacktion.
Cavs-Pistons: As the Pistons are starting to look as devastated as an average neighborhood on Woodward Avenue, the Crabs' Sasha Pavlovic was given the opportunity to claw onto a Power Pad for an 18 second Mario!
Magic-Sixers: Marcin Gortat spent 3:26 firmly in the penalty, fouling twice for a +2 suck differential that also notched up a 2:0 Voskuhl.
Blazers-Rockets: Portland's Nicolas Batum just posted the longest postseason stint of pure non-contributory lacktion so far with a 10:16 run as starting forward that provided a mere brick from downtown for a +1.
Denver versus New Orleans: Talk about your hack-a-paloozas. At one point, I felt like I was watching a Heat-Knicks game from the late-90s. The officials called 58 personal fouls -- 29 on each team -- and four players fouled out (David West and Tyson Chandler for New Orleans, and Nene and Kenyon Martin for Denver). But Chris Paul didn't seem to mind getting pounded like a B-list porn star: "This is the fun part of the playoffs, all the contact, all the flagrant fouls. You never want anyone to get hurt, but after it's all said and done, you smile about it because that's the nature of the sport."
Byron Scott, bitch and moan machine: James Posey got tagged with a well-deserved flagrant on Chris Andersen. Posey didn't go for the ball, and he gave the Birdman's arm a strong tug of the "I'm gonna see if I can get away with throwing you to the floor" variety after the whistle. And after the game, Scott was all up in arms about the call: "It was a terrible call. Chauncey Billups' (flagrant) foul on Rasual (Butler), if it would have been James Posey, they probably would have thrown him out of the game. Posey didn't do anything. He tried to hold (Andersen) up on the foul. It was a good hard foul, but to get a flagrant on the foul, you have to almost throw the guy down as well. It was a terrible call." Since I'm fairly certain Byron hasn't suffered a head injury any time recently, I'll go ahead and assume he didn't see the tape. I mean, if he wants to argue that the league has been totally wussified, I'd agree with that. But that call was pretty consistent with the pansy way David Stern wants his league run.
Playoff intensity: Thanks to Basketbawful reader gpq for sending in this pic. Talk about "Guys who don't look like they should be in the NBA"...
The San Antonio Spurs: They held the Mavs to 38 percent shooting. Tony Parker scored 43 points on 18-for-29 shooting. Tim Duncan almost had a triple-double (25 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists). And they still lost. Blame the 12 missed free throws -- including seven bonks by Duncan -- and the fact that the bench combined to shoot 4-for-14. The Spurs are just running on empty right now. When the starters not named "Duncan" or "Parker" shoot 2-for-14 your reserves finish with more fouls (14) than points (10), you know you're in serious trouble. As Tony Parker put it: "They have a lot more weapons than us." Sing along with me kids: "It's the end of the Spurs as we know them..."
In addition to all that drek, Basketbawful reader Mike T. was wagging his finger at San Antonio's clutch-time execution:
I know that the Spurs have already cemented their place in Worst of the Weekend after their second straight face plant in Dallas, but I would like to nominate them specifically for their end-of-game decision making. Down by 5 with 3:30 left in the game, the Spurs proceeded to go 1-for-8 from the field. I can live with 1-for-8 if they are getting decent shots that just aren't going in, but included in their 1-for-8 shooting was 1-for-8 from the three-point line. That's correct. In the last 3:30 of a 5-point game (that remained a 5-point game until the very end), the Spurs took eight three-pointers and zero two-pointers (to go along with zero free throws).
And these were not wide open attempts that the Mavs were giving the Spurs. The Spurs took hand in the face 3's to the point that on one possession Tim Duncan was wide open under the basket TWICE on one play and Matt Bonner missed him the first time so that Michael Finley could force a contested 25 footer the second time. Tim Duncan even broke out a new version of the Tim Duncan face on the play to express his disgust. To top it all off, coming out of a timeout the Spurs ran a set play for Bonner to shoot a contested 3 from the left corner, which is his worst place outside of the arch according to NBA.com Hot Spots.
I thought 900 games of combined playoff experience was supposed to give the Spurs some kind of mental advantage.
The Atlanta Hawks: I'm really biting my tongue right now. The last thing I want to do is stat curse the Heat. So I'm going to hold back the "I told ya so’s" until after the Hawks are actually eliminated. But their 107-78 loss in Miami felt pretty damning, didn't it? The Dirty Birds scored 29 points in the first half and finished with almost as many blocked shots against (12) as assists (13). They also got battered on the boards (48-35) and shot a miserable 36 percent. AND they continue to make Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal (22 points, 10 boards, 3 blocks) look like an All-Star center. I'm not saying Atlanta can't win this series, but can we all just agree that they aren't this great team everybody was making them out to be after those two long home stands they had this season?
The Miami Heat bench: You'd think the would have played great in such a terrible blowout...but they did not, putting up 5-for-22 group effort.
Al Horford, quote machine: The man-child getting abused by The Drain said: "No more excuses. We're going to have to bring it fuego on Monday." BRING IT FUEGO, BABY!
The Utah Jazz: Turns out their Game 3 victory was more of a lucky break than a series-changing turnaround. The Lakers bounced back from a sloppy, listless effort to set the Jazz up for a Game 5 knockout by beating them 108-94 in Utah. L.A. scored 40 points in the second quarter and then held the Jazz to 16 points in the third take total control of the game and the series. Utah got double-doubles out of Deron Williams (23 points, 13 assists) and Carlos Boozer (23 points, 16 boards), but they couldn't stop the Lakers (51 percent shooting) or hit their free throws (22-for-32). Now the only drama left in this first-round matchup is how quickly the Jazz will go down in the fifth and final game.
Deron Williams, hope springs eternal machine: After his team got its collective ass handed to it on Saturday, Deron said: "The series is not over. We've still got a little hope. We know it's going to be tough to win 3 in a row against these guys, but we should be playing free and loose." That's like telling the hangman's noose "This isn't over yet...my neck isn't broken and I can still sorta breath..."
Saturday lacktivity report: Chris brings you a super-lacktive Saturday...and a special announcement.
We're starting to see a postseason dominated by that elusive but critical element every championship team has had - lacktion. So all four of Saturday's games got love in the lacktion report:
Nuggets-Hornets: Despite a field goal and three boards in 17:43, Tyson Chandler fouled out and gave up the rock twice to fry up a Voskuhl of 8:5!
Spurs-Mavs: Matt Bonner rocketed his way to mediocrity this afternoon with a 21:55 stint so bawful, only one board away from a seemingly unprecedented +9 suck differential. That board however did not negate his bad play enough to avoid his second Voskuhl of the postseason, a ratio of 5:1 via four fouls, one turnover, and four bricks (three pieces of masonry from downtown). Bonner's non-performance also so far has set the mark for the lengthiest bawful big man showing in these playoffs.
James Singleton has now lacked it up in 3 of 4 playoff games so far for Mark Cuban's squad, this time running in place with the Speedboard NES accessory for a NINE SECOND SUPER MARIO - the second tribute to the Mushroom Kingdom that Mr. Singleton has procured this round!!!!
Heat-Hawks: THE Mario West got a second opportunity in a row to lack it up and contributed so little for so long that a Wii memory card wasn't enough to hold it all. His 3.6 trillion required the assistance of a financial broker or two!
Lakers-Jazz: Josh Powell turned on his Konami LaserScope for 20 seconds and fired off a Mario in his second straight lacktive game! Matching Powell's consecutive games of non-contribution streak was Utah's Brevin Knight, who crowned himself the court jester via two bricks and two fouls for a +4 in 2:18, the second-highest suck differential in the postseason so far.
And Andrew Bynum continues to pay tribute to the leader of Toronto's Little Three of Lacktivity, with his second straight Voskuhl (a 4:3 ratio this time around) via two fouls and two giveaways against a field goal and board in 6:57.
The Chicago Bulls free throw shooting: As I noted at By the Horns, I was ready to dub this baby "The Free Throw Game." As in, "Missed free throws cost the Bulls the chance to tie this series at two games a piece." It wasn't just the nine misses (26-for-35). It was when some of those misses occurred. You know, at the worst possible times. First, Tyrus Thomas shanked a foul shot with 16 seconds left in regulation that could have given the Bulls a four-point cushion. Ray Allen responded by drilling a cold-blooded three-pointer to force overtime. Then, with 26 ticks left in the first overtime, Kirk Hinrich blew a freebie that could have tied the game at 107. After Paul Pierce pushed Boston’s lead to 108-106 (although he too missed a free throw), Ben Gordon got the whistle but was able to hit only one of two at the stripe, thereby failing to tie the game with nine seconds to go in that first OT. Joakim Noah had to foul Allen, who knocked down both of his foul shots to give the Celtics a 110-107 lead.
The Bulls got redeemed by Ben Gordon's crazy-ass shot, but if they'd lost, it would have been on the free throw shooting. Oh, that and...
Chicago's end-of-game defense: Basketbawful reader KC Deco writes: "WotW honors goes to Chicago. As the old cliche goes, 'the most dangerous guy is the guy in-bounding the ball.' Especially if that guy is Ray Allen, who killed the Bulls in Game 2. So nice job by the Bulls on the defensive fail that let Ray Allen get wide open to tie the game with a three with less than 10 seconds to go. I mean, the second that went up, was there a single person watching that did not say 'that's in?'"
Ben Gordon: More from KC: "Oh, and Ben Gordon grabbing his crotch after his big three in the first OT? That's just gross. It was like he was trying to do the 'big balls' dance, but was aware of the curse, so he went for something less subtle. It worked, though, so more power to him." Maybe he just...had an itch...down there? Yeah. I'm sure that's it.
The Boston Celtics: Bad day for the C's. They shot poorly (42 percent), committed 21 turnovers, gave up 24 points off those turnovers, got next to nothing out of their "bench," and their Suns-like defense allowed 121 points. In fact, every single Chicago player that got into the game scored in double figures. Every. Single. One. But Boston still had a chance to pull out the victory, and they might have, if they would have committed a foul before Air Gordon got off his game-tying three-pointer. That would have forced Chicago to shoot two free throws and then immediately foul. But even though Doc Rivers said that was the gameplan, Gordon was allowed to hit that bomb...and the rest is history. Based on the outcome, it's likely that turning the final 10 seconds into a foul shooting contest probably would have been a better idea than playing Gordon roulette.
Derrick Rose: He played great (23 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists), BUT...he had his second straight 7-turnover game. That hurts.
The Detroit Pistons: And thus ends Detroit's woeful 2008-09 campaign, with a 99-78 home loss and a 4-0 first-round playoff sweep by a team they once mocked. But hey, this was all part of Joe Dumars plan! This summer, Joe has $20 million in cap space to rebuild this team immediately. They could be a contender again as soon as next season! Right...?!
Update! Allen Iverson: Totally ripped by ABC Sports (from NBA Fanhouse via Ar). The Not Answer has officially hit rock bottom and started to dig.
Update! Rasheed Wallace: This is for david's benefit. In 'Sheed's final game as a Piston, he went scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting and finished with nearly as many fouls (4) as rebounds (5). It's almost like 'Sheed's heart was included in the Iverson trade, only nobody every told us.
The Pistons' "home court advantage": Didn't it seem like half their crowd was pro-Crabs? It sure did to me...and the Associated Press: "When James joined his teammates for warmups before Game 4, Cleveland fans seemed to outnumber Detroit supporters and he waved his arms in the air to encourage them to be even louder. 'It's great to be in Cleveland,' Cavs radio broadcaster Joe Tait joked."
The Philadelphia 76ers: They needed only 10 seconds worth of defense to put the Magic in a 3-1 series stranglehold. But they didn't get it.
Does Philly emply scouts? Did anybody watching that game think The Turkish Assassin was going to do anything BUT launch a three? I mean, seriously.
The Portland Trail Blazers: They're the West's best chance of stopping the Lakers, right? Yeah. Well, I guess the folks in Cleveland better start practicing their "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" chants.
Ron Artest: Let's see...12 points on 20 shots. That's some serious efficiency. But that didn't stop him from grandstanding. The only thing missing was Rick Derringer singing "Real American."
Tracy McGrady: Could any player look (and probably feel) any more anguished than Knee-Mac did while watching his team take a commanding 3-1 series lead in their first-round series? I wonder if, should the Rockets actually win this series, Rick Adelman will let Tracy suit up and just walk onto the court for the final seconds of the deciding game just so he can say he finally made it out of the first round. That would probably be the one and only example of first-round piggybacking in NBA history...and I would love it.
Prime time announcers: Stephanie G. pointed out this was a rough weekend for some of our favorite announcing dart boards:
During the half time show of game 3 of the New Orleans-Denver series Avery Johnson had extreme difficulty pronouncing Sasha Vujacic's name. Sasha Vuyaches? Eh, close enough. It also sounded like he kept saying Lamar Oden.
In the first quarter of San Antonio-Dallas Game 4 Reggie Miller was reviewing why the Spurs got blown out in game 3 and was lamenting that Tony Parker wasn't "attacking the basketball" like he was to start the series.
As a woman I'm embarrassed by Doris Burke and I demand she apologize for causing ugly waves of women hating across basketball forums for her shallow commentary, grating voice, and the fact that she is essentially a female Mark Jackson who, like her counterpart, sounds like she wants to bed Kobe Bryant. She even used his lines at one point (momma, there goes that man!). To cap off an already bad game she somehow confused Bryon Russell with Craig Ehlo in a completely butchered attempt to compare a Kobe shot to MJ's last shot as a Bull. Besides being needless and insulting the shots were nothing alike. Also, if she could stop trying to sound hip by using '80s lingo ("he shot it right in his grill") I would be much appreciative.
Sunday lacktivity report: Chris brings a weekend of intense lacktivity to a close:
Celtics-Bulls: Two teams with storied championship histories know the importance of lacktion to a successful run to the top - even in a double-overtime special where contribution is dangerously easy! Boston's Tony Allen once again graces these paragraphs with a giveaway for a +1 suck differential in 3:07 - his third lacktive appearance this postseason, and the first two-time sucker so far - while Lindsey Hunter pointed the Laserscope briefly at the jumbotron for a 15 second Mario.
Cavs-Pistons: The team from Auburn Hills saw its hopes and dreams crushed by the Crabs' claws this afternoon, and Walter Herrmann finished up his postseason with a +2 via bricks in 6:28. Dishonorable mention has to go out to Rasheed Wallace, who narrowly avoided a Voskuhl in a four-foul, one-turnover and seven-brick showing by getting five non-game-changing boards.
In celebration, Mike Brown had a seafood trio of Sasha Pavlovic, Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson, and Tarence Kinsey storm the court for 2:07; however, only Mr. Jackson successfully executed non-contributory play with a +2 via brick and rejection, making it three games and counting living up to his moniker.
Magic-Sixers: Mareese Speights laid some sweet rhythm on the Donkey Kong Bongos for a 22 second Mario.
Blazers-Rockets: Greg Oden's attempts to "guard" Yao Ming have left him firmly in a rocking chair, as despite three boards in 10:46, he also bricked and gave up the rock once each and committed five fouls for a 6:3 Voskuhl. Meanwhile, Oden's much younger teammate Channing Frye bricked twice in 2:47 for a +2.
Clutch the Bear watched his charges take a firm grip on this first round series, with Chucky Hayes logging in an adorable +1 via foul in 4:05, his second lacktive stint this postseason.