The Atlanta Hawks: It's a pretty sad commentary when the highlight of a team's second round playoff series is losing by only 10 points in the final match of a four-game sweep. It's like managing to hang on to part of your lower intestines while being eaten alive by wild dogs. In the face of their own postseason doom, the Dirty Birds shot 31 percent from the field (23-for-73) and 15 percent from downtown (2-for-13) while finishing with only 74 points. Included in those dreadful shooting stats were nine blown layups and 41 missed jumpers. And did I mention that Wally Szczerbiak got out and dunked on them. Yep. It happened. On the bright side, they did hit 26 of their 30 free throw attempts. But back to the less-than-bright side, they failed to capitalize on Cleveland's Shaqnopsis (the Crabs were 14-for-26 from the line) and an off shooting night for LeBron James (9-for-22, including 4-for-12 on jumpers and 2-for-7 on layups).
So the Hawks finish the 2009 playoffs with a 4-7 record. And they lost those seven games by the following margins: 15, 29, 28, 27, 20, 15 and 10. That's an average margin of defeat of nearly 21 points per loss. Their postseason point differential was -7.1, fifth-worst among playoff teams, ahead of only Philly (-7.7), Utah (-9.2), Detroit (-15.5) and New Orleans (-24.2). And you'll notice none of those other teams made it out of the first round.
Of course, Hawks coach Mike Woodson was quick with the excuses, which is what you do when you've got a job to hold onto. "It's hard to judge this team because we really weren't healthy in this series. We have to get better personnel-wise, but I couldn't be more proud of the guys than I am. We made some major strides this season."
Oh, I dunno, Mike. I personally think it's very easy to judge your team...
Al Horford: According to league statisticians, Big Al, sprained ankle and all, spent 19 minutes and one second on the court last night, but you hardly would have known it by watching the game. He finished with zero points and had as many fouls (3) and missed field goals (0-for-3) as rebounds. And two of those misses were air balls, by the way. By comparison, he made Zaza Pachulia (9 points, 6 boards) look like Wilt Chamberlain. Okay, that's overstating things a bit. Manut Bol, maybe? Oh, I forgot to mention that Horford was outrebounded 4-3 by this guy...
Mike Bibby: You know, I used to love this guy back when he was playing in Sacamento alongside Chris Webber and Vlade Divac. Now? I hate him. I mean, I loath him like he was a Laker. So, yeah, I get a little wood when the Bibster blows chunks. And last night, the chunks were extra chunky. Think "I shouldn't have downed that burrito as big as my head after doing 12 tequila shots." The line: 30 minutes, 3 points (1-for-6), 1 assist, 1 turnover and 3 fouls. Not bad for a starting point guard...if your starting point guard is Eric Snow.
Mario West: How fitting that in his final game of the season -- and, who knows, maybe the final game of his career -- Mario ended up with a 35-second Mario during which he racked up a plus-minus score of zero. Dude is like Bruce Willis in "The Sixth Sense"...he's there, but he's not.
Carmelo Anthony: Everything was going so well for the Nuggets. Up 3-0 in the series, ahead by 14 points (37-23) early in the second quarter of Game 4, the Mavs looked ready to call it a season...and then 'Melo did what my buddy Mister P calls "shooting a bear in the ass with a BB gun." Anthony got tangled up with Antoine Wright under the basket, and the officials called a loose ball foul on Wright. But that wasn't enough for 'Melo, who shoved the ball into Wright and threw an open-hand slap that kinda sorta glanced off of Antoine's shoulder.
Now see, that's the kind of thing that can light a fire under your opponent, especially when you pull that crap at their place. And that's exactly what happened. From that point forward, things got more than a little chippy: The next 34 minutes featured seven technical fouls and a couple flagrants. Things got so ugly that Carmelo's woman, LaLa Vazquez, had to be removed from the stands for her own safety. And, of course, extra security had to be positioned around Kenyon Martin's mom, Lydia Martin, due to her out-of-nowhere feud with Mark Cuban. (Of the Dallas crowd, Nuggets coach George Karl said: "I would probably use an uglier word than hostile, but I'm not going to do that right now.")
Anyway, when all was said and done, the Mavericks outscored the Nuggets by 16 the rest of the way to win 119-117 and live to die another day. And despite 'Melo's career playoff-high 41 points (15-for-29), you can't help but wonder how things might have gone if the dude had just been able to control himself.
Kenyon Martin: After Mavs owner and billionaire douchebag Mark Cuban accosted Martin's mom after Game 3 -- he told Kenyon's mom that her son was a thug and might also have called him a punk -- Martin said: "I don't feel I need to call his name in the media and all that, but it's a little personal. And I'm going to take care of it. ... [You] don't say nothing to my kids or my family. If you got something to say, say it to me. But I'm going to take care of it. I'm not going to do the whole media thing, back and forth. That's his thing. I'm more of a face-to-face type of dude."
So what did Kenyon "do" about it? Well, he fouled out in 33 minutes of lacktion, finishing with more fouls (6) than points (2), rebounds (2) and assists (1). That'll teach you, Mark Cuban! But wait, there's more. Martin got all tough with some Dallas fans too. According to Art Garcia of the NBA.com Playoff Blog (via Ball Don't Lie), Martin when all Ron Artest-lite on the crowd surrounding his mom during a second-quarter video review: "'You [expletive] better cut the [expletive],' he shouted, as team personnel tried to pull him back to the huddle. 'You're going to get [expletive] up.' Martin then said to his mother: 'Somebody do something to you, you better tell me. I'm going to [expletive] somebody up.'" Fortunately for the Nuggets, the NBA and the fans sitting around Kenyon's mom, Martin did not have to [word Kevin Garnett says on the Boston bench] anybody up.
Dirk Nowitzki, "please don't make me go home" machine: Connor Nolte of PassersRemorse.com pointed out: "After Game 4, Dirk said: 'We just didn't want to go home.' I'm pretty sure no one is going to argue with Dirk not wanting to go home to that insane lady. Dallas is the new favorite to win. Dirk definitely doesn't want to go home." I don't get it. Why wouldn't you want to go home when your criminal ex-fiance -- who might be preggers with your baby -- looks like this?
Officiating: If you read yesterday's comments section, then you know that Wild Yams is mad as hell about the state of officiating in the NBA, and he's not going to take it anymore! (I'm kidding. He's totally going to take it. But totally begrudgingly.) And his latest beef is with the way the calls were going down in the Nuggets-Mavs game: "The league has got to stop all these flagrant foul calls! Did anyone see the two flagrant fouls called near the end of the first half last night when JR Smith and Linas Kleiza drove to the basket? Neither one of those were flagrant at all. I don't even think they were even very hard fouls. What the hell are the refs doing calling everything flagrant these days? I know a lot of people are clamoring for the NBA to be consistent in its rulings, but honestly I don't care about that anymore. I'd be totally fine if they essentially admitted they'd been wrong recently and starting now you saw players able to foul the way they could during the regular season without worrying that they'll get called for flagrants for every little bit of contact. Also, did we really need for the game to stop last night for 5 minutes so the refs could review the video just because Melo shoved Wright to get him off of him? Whether he made contact with his head on that shove or not shouldn't be relevant: an open-handed shove is not a punch. The refs seem like they don't know how to call things anymore, and honestly I can't blame them. It seems nowadays like the league offices are changing the in-game calls (or worse, officially saying "they blew that call") after virtually every game. Can we just get back to playing basketball already?"
Lacktion report: Chris once again proves that lacktion is like a Hostess Twinkie: Whether or not you like its spongy, cream-filled goodness, it's always there...and always fresh.
Cavs-Hawks: The Dirty Birds met the fryer tonight, but not without putting up a fight through a majority of the game. Al Horford did his part by negating three boards and a steal in 19:01 with a trio of bricks and fouls and a turnover, earning a 4:3 Voskuhl. Maurice Evans bricked and fouled twice for a suck differential of +4 in 12:18. But in a clear example of a player showing the Association he is the world's best at a particular role, THE Mario West spent 35 seconds avoiding Donkey Kong's barrels one last time, to achieve his last Mario of the 2008-09 season (which somehow included a steal!).
Nuggets-Mavs: Even before the end of the game, Erick Dampier proved his non-worth to Mark Cuban with a painfully lengthy 22:54 stint -- where four boards, an assist, and a block were nowhere near enough to overcome a brick, five giveaways, and an Oden-style foulout! Yep, that's an 11:4 Voskuhl, THE worst ratio of the playoffs, and one of the most ghastly ratios in memory.
Luckily, Dirk Nowitzki more than made up for that mediocrity, allowing James Singleton to get back out there on the last play and be a human victory cigar! With the Mavs still alive, James's 1.4 trillion will no doubt help cover some of Mr. Cuban's legal bills.
And while George Karl's team did not end the series there, it wasn't for an absence of lacking it up, as Renaldo Balkman may have scored a late-game Super Mario Galaxy, according to ESPN (but not verified by any other source).
Insane fans:As reported yesterday, Glen "Big Baby" Davis got so freakin' excited over his game-winning jumper at the end of Game 4, he ended up shoving some fat kid who was standing courtside as he shambled his way back to the Boston bench. In a sane world, we all would have enjoyed a nice, hearty chuckle over the sweaty, flapping collision of porky flesh...that would have been that. But we don't live in a sane world. We live on a planet in which our millionaire basketball players are knocking up criminal woman-beasts and a man can't sit down on the toilet without having his penis bitten by a snake. So of course the kid's dad is getting all pissy. According to the Orlando Sentinel:
Ernest Provetti was standing beside his 12-year-old son Nicholas, sitting courtside, when the boy caught the backhand of an excited Davis. Davis scored the game-winning basket in the Boston Celtics' 95-94 Game 4 win against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena.
Earlier today, he said he sent an e-mail to the NBA league office complaining about Davis' shove -- who many thought to be an accident.
In the e-mail, Provetti said Davis conducted himself like a "raging animal" with no regard for fans' personal safety.
"The NBA makes it clear to not cross the sideline," he said in a telephone interview. "If I cross that line, the NBA will take away my tickets. It's a double standard."
He said neither Boston or the NBA has responded. And he won't be waiting around for that call.
Sorry, Ernest. The NBA has a strict policy of not negotiating with crazy people. But if you take your wacko act to a local Starbucks, you might be able to intimidate the barista (which is pretentious for "coffee server") into a free vente diet triple frapachoco mocha whatever. Oh, and Ernest, here's some advice. Go to YouTube and to a search for "raging animal" sometime. You'll probably find several videos like this one, that will show you what a rampaging animal attack really looks like. And if that doesn't convince you, then here's a quick quiz that may help you to determine whether you have been the victim of a raging animal attack: Is there a pulpy blob of oozing flesh where the fat kid you brought to the basketball game with you was just standing? If the answer is yes...you just might have been victimized by one or more rampaging animal-monsters. Otherwise, you're a crazy, complaining twat.
Zach Randolph: Pablo sent in the link to this awesome "Where Will Amazing Happen This Year?" spoof that features Z-Bo and the worst possession in NBA history. Do yourself a favor and watch this baby seven times.