I'm freaking exhausted. This Bulls-Celtics series is KILLING me. But wow, how lucky am I? My two favorite teams are competing in what has become the closest and most competitive series in NBA history. Seven -- count 'em! -- seven overtime sessions...SO FAR. That total beats the old NBA record by three overtimes! In fact, no other team has ever even had as many OTs in an ENTIRE postseason. Honestly, I feel like I should be typing this entire paragraph in all caps. It's crazy.
Despite the truly epic nature of last night's triple overtime game, there was still plenty of 'bawful. Like Rondo's flagrant fouls (more on that below), Ben Gordon's remorseless gunnery/foul out/temper tantrum, Derrick Rose's game-high 5 turnovers (giving him 25 in the last four games), Kirk Hinrich's ridiculous missed layup attempt in the third OT (he never should have taken the shot), the fact that Kirk's missed layup was goaltended by Rondo but the refs didn't call it, the fact that Paul Pierce got pilfered and then fouled out by Joakim Noah on a single, game-changing play, the continuing suck-ass play of the Boston bench, John Salmons' forced three-pointer (that hit nothing but air) near the end of regulation, that sequence when the Bulls gave up a 23-3 run (including one 18-0 spurt) after going up 12 to fall behind by 8, Aaron Gray's forgettable 43-second Mario, Big Baby's moving pick to set up Ray Allen for a game-tying three-pointer, Rondo getting his shot smother-chickened by D-Rose at the end of the game...
...but even all those things are just nitpicks. That was one of the most incredible games I've ever seen. Maybe the most incredible. So no, I'm not giving it an official WotN entry. But I will give one to...
Here's the million dollar question: Will the league stick by the precedent its set (most recently with Dwight Howard) and suspend Rondo for whistling an elbow past Captain Kirk's face during that altercation, or will David Stern make a "business decision" and overlook it so as to not diminish a possibly epic ending to one of the NBA's all-time great playoff series? My guess: Stern will cop out and sacrifice integrity for $$.
Vinny Del Negro, "needs to calm down" machine: Basketbawful reader Kelly M. provided this picture of Vinny's...erection?! I'm speechless. (By the way, Kelly Tweets and needs followers. You know what to do.)
The Philadelphia 76ers: They got what they wanted: Dwight Howard was suspended for Game 6 in Philadelphia. Plus, the Magicians also were without Courtney Lee -- who had been truly fantastic through the first four games -- because Superman nearly killed him with an elbow in Game 5. Facing an opponent minus their best player AND their standout rookie, the Sixers had every reason to expect a series-tying victory that would send the proceedings back to Orlando for a do-or-die Game 7. So what happened? Philly stunk up the joint and got hammered 114-89 at home, where they will be staying for the rest of the playoffs while Orlando moves on to face the quivering remains of whatever comes out of the Bulls-Celtics series.
The Sixers shot 40 percent, finished with nearly as many turnovers (16) as assists (17), and they got beaten on the boards (41-36) despite the fact that Howard, the league's leading rebounder during the regular season AND the playoffs, was Twittering madly from his hotel room. (Examples: "aaaaaahh got yall i cant tell yall. its real bad real bad michael jackson lol. see if yall can get that" and "i wish i was playin. i never intended to hurt nebody or my team.") And their defense was bad enough to put another couple cracks in the Liberty Bell. Sans Superman, the Magic converted nearly 54 percent of their field goal attempts. Rafer Alston (21 points, 8-for-16, 10 assists) looked like an All-Star PG, Marcin Gortat (11 points, 15 rebounds, 4 steals) dropped the Polish Hammer and even J.J. Redick was unstoppable from downtown (5-for-7). Oh, and let's not forget Rashard Lewis' game-high 29 points on 11-for-22 shooting. Basically, the only Magic players Philly stopped were the ones who didn't play.
Was it really that bad? Well, their own fans booed them off the court at the end of the third quarter, so you tell me. Actually, it felt like the perfect ending to a sad and disappointing season in which the Sixers -- who dropped serious coin for the injured-and-not-playing Elton Brand -- were supposed to challenge for Eastern Conference supremacy. Instead, they bowed out in pathetic fashion at home against an undermanned opponent. Super playoff fail. Speaking of which...
Samuel Dalembert: From Basketbawful reader Mladen: "Looks like our boy Gortat's been reading Basketbawful. Probably moved by your story, he decided to posterize not one, but two 'defenders,' one of which was Samuel Dalembert, who fell on the floor afterwards. Simply bawful." Indeed.
Dwight Howard: When the TNT crew was discussing the Magic-Sixers game during halftime of Celtics-Bulls, they said outright that Orlando was...wow...better without Howard. And they were NOT kidding. Andre Miller said the same thing after the game, and even claimed that at least one of Dwight's teammates thinks the same thing: "They're actually better without Dwight Howard. One of their players told me that they were better without Dwight Howard. They said the ball moves quicker. They're not standing around a lot." I'm going to have to think a little bit more about whether I believe that's actually the case, but I suppose you could make the argument that last night's game was pretty damning evidence that Miller's statement is on the money.
The Portland Trail Blazers: The 2008-09 Blazers will be forever remembered as "The Team That Finally Let Yao Ming Escape His First-Round Prison." And lest we all forget, Henry Abbott devoted a huge (and, for him, semi-controversial) TrueHoop mega-post (with statistical backup singing from number-crunching extraordinaires John Hollinger and Justin Kubatko) to explaining why the Blazers were the most-likely Western Conference team to upend the Lakers. And yet here they are, no more than a first-round sacrifice to a Ron Artest-led Rockets team that nobody trusted...even when they were lucky enough to lose Knee-Mac for the season.
Yes. Yes, it's true. Ron Artest. Dude entered last night's game knocking down a dismal 37.7 percent of his shots for the series. And it felt even worse than that. I mean, the Blazers wanted, nay, were BEGGING him to chuck up the rock. Big mistake. Ron-Ron scored a game-high 27 points on 11-for-21 from the field, including 8-for-10 from inside the arc. Houston put Portland in an early hole and the Blazers never could climb out. The closest they got was to within 13 during the fourth quarter, but the final score (92-76) is representative of the cakewalk it was for the Rockets. And there was no glaring reason for the blowout. The Blazers shot a little worse and didn't take care of the ball as well, but they earned more free throws and won the rebounding battle. That's the kicker, you know? Portland wasn't terrible...Houston was just better. Like, pretty clearly better.
(One last note: You should all go check out the comments section of that TrueHoop post I linked to above. Wild Yams got skewered for his common-sense viewpoints. So, tell us, Yams...how does redemption feel?)
Greg Oden: His line (3 points, 1-for-3, 6 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 4 fouls in 16 minutes) just screamed Kwame Brown to me for some reason. It's just stunning to me, like finding an entire human foot in your bowl of Fruity Pebbles. This old man-child was supposed to be The Next Great Center, remember? A sure thing. A slam dunk. Had the Celtics won the NBA draft lottery in 2007, Danny Ainge would have selected Oden and not only would Boston not have won the title last season, I'd be willing to bet Paul Pierce might not even be wearing the green and white right now. Funny how things work out. Speaking of which...
Tracy McGrady: Just think...if Knee-Mac had spent last summer working out and rehabbing like, say, a Kobe Bryant would have, he might have that "Never Been Out Of The First Round" monkey off his back RIGHT NOW. Oh, Tracy, oh how you have failed. I am being completely serious when I say that, at this point, the only way McGrady's story could be any more tragic was if he got diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or a chunk of the International Space Station broke off, entered orbit and fell directly on his car while he was driving it.
Ron Artest, postgame interview machine: Via Wild Yams:
Speaking of quotes...
P.J. Carlisimo, unintentionally dirty quote machine: From Basketbawful reader David E: "After Ron Artest grabbed a steal with about four minutes left in the 4th, P.J. Carlisimo rasped out 'The only guy I remember with hands as strong as Artest was Karl Malone. He used to strip guys all the time.'"
The NBA:As Henry Abbot put it (with some small sense of bitterness): "Vinny Del Negro, you remember when you used to single cover Paul Pierce in his favorite spot with the game on the line? If would have had the decency to do that at the end of regulation, perhaps this game might have ended in time for the nation to see some of the first half of the most important game in recent Trail Blazer and Rocket history. (It really is amazing, though. All Game 6s should be televised somewhere. Couldn't NBATV pick that up?)" Although, in all fairess to the league, that games really wasn't worth watching, especially with Celtics-Bulls going on.
Lacktion report: Now watch Chris make sweet love to this lacktion. Or read. Whatever.
Magic-Sixers: Without Dwight Howard, the Magic STILL laid down the law at Wachovia Center, advancing to the second round. Theo Ratliff exemplified Philadelphia's fulity with a Voskuhl in 4:57 after negating a board and block with a brick, giveaway, and two fouls for a 3:1 ratio.
Celtics-Bulls: In a triple-overtime epic that will be talked about for years to come...several notable lacktators managed to avoid contributions through the 63 minute spectacle!
Boston's bench has been considered their Achilles heel for some time, and when Brad Miller's 23 points is more than twice the total of the warmup-wearers in green, that's a sure sign that something's wrong. Stephon Marbury may be all about Starbury.com, but tonight was a big shout out to Basketbawful.com with a +4 in 7:58 via foul and three missed shots, once all the way out from the Loop! Mikki Moore paid tribute to his Suckramento days with a statline that would make Kenny Natt proud: +1 via brick in 2:50.
Vinny Del Negro's upstarts weren't all about making clutch shots or amazing final-minute blocks in the third overtime, as two of them chose to take a trip to the local pizzeria for some sodas and spaghetti. Linton Johnson and Aaron Gray were Chicago's Mario Brothers for the evening, with respective stints of 15 and 43 seconds.
Blazers-Rockets: Clutch The Bear gets to see the second round for the first time in ages, and Chucky Hayes, in his third lacktive appearance this postseason, decided to slowly dial up his stockbroker for a 1.5 trillion to celebrate the momentous occasion! (This makes Chucky the first two-time money man in the playoffs.)
The zombie apocalypse: I warned you. I warned you all. Now I'm vindicated. From Wild Yams: "Mr. Bawful, since you brought up the impending zombie apocalypse, you'll be happy to know that swine flu has already begun turning people into zombies: 'After death, this virus is able to restart the heart of it’s victim for up to two hours after the initial demise of the person where the individual behaves in extremely violent ways from what is believe to be a combination of brain damage and a chemical released into blood during 'resurrection.' Also, if you're not sure if you may have already contracted swine flu, be sure to use this helpful website to diagnose yourself."