Note: Today's picture was pilfered from Ball Don't Lie. Also, Wild Yams continues to cover the Rockets-Lakers series.
The Boston Celtics: The Magic shot a miserable 36 percent from the field, connected on only six of their 26 three-point attempts and lost the rebounding battle 48-42. They even missed 14 free throws. So how in the name Courtney Love's cold sores did the Celtics manage to LOSE this one? Well, that story begins with the 22 turnovers they committed...which the Magicians added to a mix of sheep's testicles and gypsy tears and transformed into 26 points going the other way. Add in a little offensive ineptitude (only 29 second-half points) and some home cooking (Orlando missed more foul shots than Boston even attempted) and you have a sure-fire spell for Fail.
What's even worse is that early in the third quarter, it looked like the Celtics were going to run away with this one. They held the Magic scoreless for five-plus minutes to start the period and built a 10-point lead...before falling the hell apart. Sloppy ball handling, stupid fouls, terrible defense and questionable shot selection allowed Orlando to pull to within a point by the end of the third and wasted no time in regaining the lead in the fourth. Paul Pierce had a mini-hot streak to help the C's go up by one (73-72) with about four minutes to go...but they would score only two points the rest of the way before losing 83-75. Said Rajon Rondo: "I guess we just choked." I guess so.
Ray Allen: Okay. This situation has gotten so bad that Ray's slump is in a slump. The latest disaster was a 2-for-12 performance, which included seven misses in seven tries from downtown. Ray-Ray finished with as many fouls (5) and almost as many turnovers (4) as points (5). So his series numbers now stand at 30 percent from the field (23-for-75) and 13 percent from beyond the arc (5-for-36). It's like someone replaced his hands with five kielbasa sausages that are just strung together with twine and Elmer's glue. Memo to Ray: I suggest taking your jump shot out to an expensive dinner, buying it a $10 million diamond ring and then making sweet, sweet love to it...not for your pleasure, do it the way your jumper wants it done, you know, with lots of foreplay and stuff. If that doesn't work, then you're on your own.
Paul Pierce, Captain Obvious: "The offense definitely struggled."
Kendrick Perkins, unintentionally dirty quote machine: "We felt like we beat ourselves tonight."
J.J. Redick: I guess J.J.'s got a case of whatever's wrong with Ray Allen. His 0-for-7 performance in Game 6 is clearly part of a larger and craptacular trend: He's 3-for-25 over the last four games, which includes 2-for-13 from downtown. I'm ready to nickname him "Mini-Ray."
Dwight Howard: I've seen a number of "Howard Was Right"-style headlines and comments throughout the media and blogosphere this morning, probably because of Dwight's Animal-Style domination of the Celtics last night (23 points, 22 rebounds). But make no mistake: His performance had nothing to do with Stan Van Gundy getting his star pouter player more touches. Rather, it had everything to do with Howard being more active and taking things into his own hands. And by "things" I mean offensive rebounds. As in 10 of 'em. And check it: Four of his nine made field goals came from tip-ins and putbacks, and all five free throws he converted (out of 12 attempts) came as a result of fouls after offensive rebounds. So 13 of his 23 points were a result of his board work, which supports the conclusion of Ben Q. Rock from the Third Quarter Collapse: Dwight best work -- and maybe his only good work -- comes off the offensive glass.
But hey, give Howard some credit where it's due. When asked if he'd learned anything after slamming his foot in his mouth, he said: "Biggest lesson? Keep my mouth shut." Good lesson.
Stan Van Gundy, subtle dig machine: We all know about how Howard called out his coach to the press after Orlando's Game 5 loss. Well, Stan the Man said that not only did Dwight's words fail to convince him to make a strategy change, he Van Gundy said he compared Howard's comments to an argument between himself and his wife. "When she gets on me for something, my first reaction is to blame someone else. To make an excuse. To do something else, because I don't like being criticized. And I think when Dwight gets into a game, his first thing is, 'I don't want the blame.' This is just my guess. But when you step back and look at it, I usually realize the person who's been on me has a point. And then it's time to step up and do the job." So in this analogy, Dwight is Stan's nagging wife and Stan is the wishy-washy husband who ultimately realizes things need to be done his way. Unless I'm reading this wrong...
The Los Angeles Lakers: Everyone reading this might not believe it, but it's after games like last night's that I'm glad to be able to write up how bad the Lakers played. The reason is because even though I'm a fan, I'm definitely not an apologist, and there is no excuse for the lack of effort the Lakers showed in Game 6. As I predicted (and Mr. Bawful can attest to this), after winning Game 5 by 40 points, the Lakers clearly figured the series was in the bag and came out as flat as can of soda that's been left open all week. Game 6 started out almost identical to the way Game 4 did, with Houston racing out to a 17-1 start which then became a 21-3 lead, before the Lakers eventually decided to make an appearance. The only difference between Games 4 & 6 was that in Game 4 the Lakers just packed it in after that horrid start, while in Game 6 the Lakers finally made an effort, though the hole they'd dug for themselves in the first 8 minutes proved too deep. Oddly enough, over the final 40 minutes of the game the Lakers outscored Houston, even cutting the deficit to two at one point, but anytime you spot the opponent an 18 point lead, you're just asking to lose.
But the Lakers' loss was equal parts stupidity as it was lack of effort (not to take anything away from Houston, by the way, as they played a hell of a game). The Lakers, sporting a massive size advantage against a Houston team that has been stripped of all its centers and who now feature no active players who are taller than 6'9, were absolutely crushed by Houston's undersized frontline. Rather than go inside to Gasol, Bynum and Odom (23 shots between the three of them), the Lakers fired away from 3-pt range with 23 attempts (hitting only 5 of them). The 23 3-pt attempts were the most the Lakers had attempted in this series, while the Lakers trio of big men (Gasol, Bynum & Odom) combined for only 22 total points. For comparison's sake, in Game 5 when the Lakers won by 40, they only attempted 13 3-pt shots, while the Laker big men combined for 40 points (despite playing relatively few minutes due to the blowout). As usual when the Lakers lose, most of the blame has to go to:
Kobe Bryant: Doing his best Ron Artest impression (or maybe Artest is just always doing a Kobe impression, who can say), Kobe decided to try to do it all by himself by taking 27 of the team's 84 shots. Unfortunately for the Lakers Kobe only hit 11 of those shots (1-5 from downtown), as the Rockets once again rather easily baited Kobe into taking one difficult shot after another, rather than just involve his teammates. Even Ron Artest only attempted 17 shots on the night (second for the game behind Kobe, yet still 10 fewer shots than Mr. Bryant had). One of the teammates Kobe did a poor job of getting involved was...
Andrew Bynum: After scoring more points in Game 5 than he had in Games 1-4 combined, Bynum returned to what has been his postseason form this year with yet another scoreless game, this time going 0-3 in 19 minutes of play. As I hinted at above, some of this is not really his fault, as a pivot like him relies on guards like Kobe to pass him the ball once in awhile; but the Lakers needed a lot more out of him than no points again, for the third time this series.
Derek Fisher: Fisher really stunk up the joint at both ends of the floor, yet again; this time letting his cover, Aaron Brooks, go off for 26 points on only 13 shots, while only pouring in two whole points himself (shooting 1-7 and 0-5 from downtown). Fisher also had only 1 assist, while racking up 1 turnover and 1 foul to boot. All around poor performance by "the crafty veteran." It should be noted that ever since Fisher's flagrant two foul on Luis Scola in Game 2, he's been a virtual no-show in this series, with three straight games of only 2 points, while shooting a combined 3-for-17 since then.
Like Walton: From Basketbawful reader RT: "Luke Walton, Colonel (Captain just isn't high enough) Obvious: 'If we can't win a Game 7 at home, then we are not a championship team.' Clap. Clap." Update! More from RT: "I found another gem from Luke Walton: 'We're all aware of the stakes, we all know that a loss on Sunday would be pretty much a failure of a season.' It's like a zebra, about to be chased by a lion, saying: 'I'm aware of the stakes, I know that a loss would be pretty much a failure at life.' I think Luke's been gorging himself on some of Bill's pot. Of gold."
Bonus Kobedickery: Basketbawful reader catfish asked: "Can somebody find a clip of when Kobe practically punched Gasol in the head after getting burned by Scola? They had a timeout, and Kobe went upside the big Spaniard's heads to make sure his point got across. It reminded me of one of Curt Schilling's blog posts from last year where he noticed the drastic difference between the bonds of the Boston Celtics and how everyone on the Lakers hated to be playing with Kobe. Is there any athlete that is more disliked by every single teammate hes ever had?" Not sure I'm qualified to answer that question (although the answer is "no"), but Dunpizzle provided a link to an animated gif of the moment.
Shane Battier, quote machine: From Basketbawful reader anne: "I think I'm in love with Shane Battier after this quote: 'Hey, we're part of the NBA, too,' Battier said. 'We've got the NBA logo socks to prove it.' I'm loving the fact that he was a smartass after the game. I mean, Ron Artest's general craziness and now this? The Rockets are making me swoon. If they take game 7, I may have to elope with this team. My word verification is challs. As in, the Rockets have the challs to beat the Lakers despite what Stern wants."
Ron Artest, crazy-ass quote machine: Basketbawful reader catfish provided this comedy gold from today's Daily Dime:
But if you think the Rockets are suddenly feeling the magnitude of the moment and are about to get crushed under the weight of playing a Game 7, just listen to this portion of Ron Artest's postgame interview.
"'Five Dollar Foot-long' is one of the best songs," Artest said. "That's a hot song. You've got the FreeCreditReport.com, and then 'Five Dollar Foot-long' comes on. When 'Five Dollar Foot-long' comes on, they should play that in the club. They should play all those in the club."
Anytime a key player has more to say about commercial jingles than adjustments, it's the sign of a loose team."
That or a burgeoning insanity. But I'll go ahead and let J.A. Adande stick with his "loose team" theory.
Lacktion report: Chris has officially provided the shortest lacktion report in lacktion report history: "Tony Battie tossed one brick for a suck differential of +1 in 3:26."
Charles Barkley: From You Been Blinded: "Charles Barkley said on TNT's Inside the NBA Wednesday night that the only things a woman could beat him at are cooking and cleaning. Show camerawoman Cibelle (sp.) challenged Charles to a push-up contest, and proved him wrong." Why, Charles? Why?
Update! Death: The NBA lost one of it's all-time "great guys" today, as Wayman Tisdale passed away at 44 after a lengthy battle with cancer. I'm actually a little misty-eyed over this one, so I'll close this entry out with a quote from Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel: "He's one of the best human beings I've ever been around in my entire life. Anyone who's ever met him is hurting today because he made you feel special."
Another update! More tributing from BadDave, who was really moved by Wayman's passing:
Reflections of Wayman
As already noted by Bawful reader Axel Foley, Wayman Tisdale passed away today after a two-year struggle with cancer. You can find the story (provided by Axel F) here. He was a solid 15 PPG and 6 RPG player, and a moral inspiration to teammates.
Even a handicapped Wayman was an inspiration.
But take note, unlike so many players, Wayman was a complete person. He was a very accomplished musician; he played bass guitar and if you listen to his music at www.waymantisdale.com, you KNOW he got the sweet lovin as result from his smooth beats. He made eight albums -- that’s a pretty big deal. He has a great family consisting of his wife Regina, four kids, and a new granddaughter.
The man was also an out-and-out monster in college ball. He rocked it for the Oklahoma Sooners, holding both the scoring record with 2,661 points and the rebounding record with 1,048 rebounds. He was on the Pre-Dream Team in the Olympics in 1984, and he was also one of 10 three-time All-Americans: The others were Oscar Robertson, Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor, Pete Maravich, Patrick Ewing, Tom Gola, Jerry Lucas, David Thompson and Ralph Sampson (from ESPN).
But most of all, he was just one of those great guys that consistently did whatever his team needed in his role: defend, score, rebound, and hustle. Players like that have always been in short supply, which is why Basketbawful is in business, I guess. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and fans.