Many thanks to Wild Yams, whose run as our special correspondent for the Lakers ends with today's post. Give him a hand, everybody. Or, you know, whatever random body part you aren't using.The Denver Nuggets:
Last year it was the Lakers who sort of came out of nowhere and secured a top seed in the West before rolling through the conference playoffs. This year it was Denver's turn. And just like last year's Lakers, the Nuggets ended their strong run in rather humiliating fashion. Last June, L.A. wrapped up a dream season with a 39-point nightmare loss in Boston. This May, the Nuggets' finale was a 27-point home loss to the Lakers...proving once again that in every contest there must be one winner and one lee-HOO zeh-HER.
The Lakers basically beat Denver every which way a team could be beaten, winning every quarter of the game, outrebounding Denver by 11, doubling up Denver's assist total, shooting 14 percent better from the field and 14 percent better from three, taking one less free throw attempt but hitting four more than Denver did, and on it goes. I'm pretty sure their role players even did a better job of slapping high-fives and handing out Gatorade during timeouts. Seriously, the Nuggets played so poorly, it was like a judge had ordered the team to humiliate themselves on YouTube. Which isn't exactly unheard of
One could say that Denver just didn't come to play in this game, but I think it was more a result of what George Karl said afterward: "In this series I saw little cracks in the Lakers and somehow we've cemented those cracks back up." I think that after sleepwalking through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Lakers finally were challenged to play their best, and that's just what they did. The Nuggets defense clearly wasn't very good. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza combined to shoot 64 percent (34-for-53) and score 92 total points, equaling the Nuggets' entire team output. However, you have to give some credit to the Lakers for finally just showing up and playing to their considerable potential. Still, the Nuggets definitely deserve a lot of the blame for this loss, beginning in particular with...Chauncey Billups:
Mr. Big Shot came up awfully small with the season on the line, finishing with only 10 points on 2-for-7 shooting to go with 5 turnovers and 4 fouls. He also was way out "in front" on his team with the worst plus/minus score of -28. You could almost argue that Derek Fisher had the better game, because even though Billups had 5 more points and 5 more assists, Fisher had 4 fewer turnovers and only missed one shot to Chauncey's 5. Fisher being a +25 for the game helps a bit too.Kenyon Martin, denial machine:
After getting curbstomped at home to finish the season, Neck Lips had this to say
: "I think we're better than them, actually, to be honest. But we didn't prove that. That's obvious, cause they're moving on and we're not. But I think we have a better team than they do. Some people are going to say maybe the experience of them getting to the Finals last year was a deciding factor. But I'm proud of these guys in this locker room. And I think as a whole, our team is better than their team." Come on, K-Mart, if AK Dave can admit the obvious, so can you.Nene:
He wasn't as limited with foul trouble as he'd been at other times in this series (though he still had 4 for the game), but in the 33 minutes of playing time he got, he didn't do nearly enough to help his team, recording only 8 points and 6 rebounds. Lucky for Nene, Dahntay Jones technically starts, otherwise Nene's 8 points would have been the lowest by a starter (Jones only had two points in 13 minutes). The fact that Nene broke his arm
late in the 4th quarter pretty much capped off what was a poor night for the Brazilian center. Nene was also part of the Denver frontcourt which got shredded by Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for 40 points and 20 rebounds. Another Denver big man who helped ease the way for LA's frontcourt dominance was...Chris Andersen:
On Friday the Birdman looked more like he did in the 2005 Slam Dunk Contest
than he has lately in these playoffs, finishing with only 2 points and 2 boards. He did get 3 blocks and a steal, but his -19 plus/minus rating (third worst on the team) is pretty telling. Then again, maybe the plus/minus stat is somewhat misleading...Andrew Bynum:
It's pretty befuddling how Bynum could finish with a +16 despite finishing with only 2 points, 1 board and five missed shots in 22 minutes, but that's exactly what LA's young center did. Here's guessing that if he posts stat lines like that against Dwight Howard in The Finals, he won't continue to be on the positive side of the plus/minus stat.Jeff Van Gundy:
Basketbawful reader Justin B. needs somebody to talk to. And that somebody...is us.
I just wrote this to you guys, since I have no idea who else to tell this to.
My life came to a stand still with about 9:30 left in the 3rd quarter of the Lakers-Nuggets game. Mark Jackson made some reference to "best of both worlds" (I try to tune out these guys, because they're sadly and secretly becoming worse than the NBA referees at their respective jobs), to which Jeff Van Gundy said "Who are you? Hannah Montana? The best of both worlds?" Which was followed by an awkward silence as Jackson tried to figure out exactly what kind of response he should give, which turned out to be a forced chuckle and VG going on another 30 minute journey of listening to himself talk.
At that moment, several thoughts came into my mind: A) Does Jackson know who Hannah Montana is? B) How does Van Gundy know not only Montana, but her songs? C) Is this the first time in NBA history a sportscaster has referenced, totally out of context, a wannabe-sensation teenaged girl? D) Did he really just do that? Not in a regular season game, but in one of the biggest games of the playoffs? IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK TO JUST CALL THE GAME? (And while you're at it, keep the references to relevant people, in context of the game?)
Van Gundy also has 3 reoccurring themes throughout the series:
1. The word "contort" -- Chauncey Billups contorts his body to get fouled on jump shots, Kobe and 'Melo contort their bodies to finish plays at the rim, Billups contorts his body to get more fouls on jump shots, and Kobe contorts his body to get non-existent fouls.
2. The phrase "Kenyon Martin with the line drive" -- I'll admit, the first time it caught me off guard and was kind of funny. The next five times it popped out of his mouth I got tired of it. They weren't even line drives! He just substituted it in for the word "jumpshot."
3. The phrase "I love this, this is playoff basketball" -- his response to everything that's a foul, or a non-foul. He can't make up his mind if it's a foul or no a foul. oh wait, that's because he's always in favor of the refs.
My dad: He calls Chris Andersen the "Bird Guy" (Here he is, it's the Bird Guy!) and Zydrunas "Il-a-gow-kus." He can't get that extra 's' in there and it drives me crazy. Alright, so you don't need to know that but I dont have anyone else to tell. But seriously, is anyone else tired of Van Gundy?
It's not just you. Honestly, I loved the Breen/Jackson/Van Gundy trio at first. They were funny, played well off of each other and Van Gundy in particular often provided great coach-specific insight. (For example, one time he noted that Kobe Bryant is great at grabbing offensive rebounds off of missed free throws right before Kobe did just that.) Now it seems that instead of preparing for games, they just show up and try to let the magic happen. Well, it ain't happening.Friday lacktion report:
A blowout elimination game means...lacktivity! As Chris explains: "As the Lord Mamba puppet show moves on to the Finals for the second straight year, Andrew Bynum continues to demonstrate his potential in unspectacular fashion -- if by potential, you mean 'his ability to channel Jake Voskuhl for the fifth time this postseason.' In a 21:54 stint as starting big man, Bynum racked up a Voskuhl
of 4:3 via three fouls and a giveaway against one made field goal and one board. George Karl's Nuggets finished off their year with Renaldo Balkman mining out a 1.6 trillion
."The Cleveland Cavaliers:
The best team in basketball? Apparently not, because they sure got out-teamed by the Magic in this series. And even though Orlando simply played better basketball, the Cavs did plenty to contribute to their own downfall. Kind of like that cop who tasered himself during an arrest
. The Clevelanders got bushwhacked on the boards (47-34) and they bricked half of their free throws (11-for-22). Memo to the Cavaliers and their coaching staff: Rebounding and foul shooting are definite keys to winning. That is all. But not really. Let's address the author of Cleveland's many mistakes...Mike Brown:
Did Brown make a single successful adjustment in this series? Scratch that. Did he even make AN adjustment in this series? It's crazy. Remember: Mike won the Coach of the Year award. And he didn't just win...he freaking killed it
. Brown received 55 first-place votes and earned 355 total points. Houston's Rick Adelman came in second with 151 points.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports wrote a column titled "What can Brown do for Cavs? Not very much"
in which he said: "Mike Brown, the smart leader of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a good coach. There's little question about that. Reasonable people can't dispute it. It also cannot be argued that the reigning Coach of the Year in Brown is receiving one of the more public and painful coaching beat-downs we've seen in a long time. ... Van Gundy has outwitted and outsmarted Brown, straining almost every conceivable tactical and emotional advantage out of his Orlando team while frustrating Brown and his Cavs." There's more but you get the idea. A Google search of "Mike Brown outcoached by Van Gundy" yields a healthy number of results
. And one writer at NBA Fanhouse thinks Mike will be fired during the offseason
Brown did so much wrong in this series it's hard to make a master list, but just a few of his boo-boos included feeding Zydrunas Ilguaskas and Anderson Varejao to the lions (via sticking them against Dwight Howard in single coverage), putting Delonte West (who's 6'4") on Hedo Turkoglu (who's 6'10"), having LeBron James cover Rafer Alston, asking Ben Wallace to defend Rashard Lewis at the three-point line at the end of Game 4, failing to utilize a deep bench (Sasha Pavlovic got five minutes in Game 6, and Joe Smith never got out of his warm-ups), etc. Hell, half the time he wasn't even addressing his team during timeouts. (I'm not the only one who noticed this
Bottom line: His CotY award was a sham. Not that he isn't a good coach in certain respects -- his players get after it on defense and seem to respect him -- but seriously...the fact that he has a CotY trophy in the bag when Jerry Sloan has NEVER won one keeps me up at night. That and the Internet porn. Okay, it's mostly the Internet porn. But that other thing has me pretty upset too. Wait, what was I talking about? Right! The Cavaliers. To be fair, it wasn't all Mike Brown. It was also...Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace:
The Z-Man finished with 2 points (1-for-5), 7 rebounds and 4 fouls in 21 minutes. Big Ben logged 14 minutes and had 4 points (2-for-3) and 3 rebounds. And both men had their timbers shivered by Dwight Howard (40 points, 14-for-21, 14 rebounds and 4 assists). Did somebody glue their shoes to the floor
? Maybe replace them with inflatable defenders
? A roll of paper towels
would have put up a better fight than those two guys. The beating was so bad that Wallace is considering retirement
, which would mean walking away from the final year of his contract...and the $14 million it's worth. That's one serious case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.Mo Williams:
He didn't have a bad game, exactly: 17 points, 6-for-12 from the field, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and a turnover. Still...those aren't exactly All-Star numbers are they? And to think, Mo guaranteed the Cavaliers were going to win this series
. Instead, all Williams did was surpass Devin "We knew we were going to be a playoff team" Harris
for the season's most catastrophic stat curse
.The Cleveland bench:
Just tack them onto the bottom of the list of "Cavaliers Who Let LeBron Down in the 2009 Playoffs." Three guys got 10-plus minutes (Ben Wallace, Boobie Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak), and they combined for 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Sasha Pavlovic went scoreless in five minutes. Tarence Kinsey nearly had a one trillion. Joe Beast didn't play.LeBron James:
King Crab earned another award to go along with his MVP: A bad sportsmanship trophy. Why? Because he pulled a 1991 Detroit Pistons
and stormed off the floor rather than slap palms with his buddy Dwight Howard or congratulate any of the other Magic players. Later, he shirked his responsibility as team captain, refusing to talk to the press, which forced Mo Williams to answer all the uncomfortable questions.
Naturally, once he was ready to speak again, LeBron dismissed his superdickery
in standard "I'm not a jerk, just a winner" fashion
...which the media loves. "It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them. I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. ... I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand." Wow. Sounds like somebody's suffering from a case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
. Dissing your victorious opponents and then claiming that's what winners do...well, if that's not narcissistic, I don't know what is. Seriously, even the schmos at eHow.com
know how to be a good loser. Why doesn't the league's Most Valuable Player? FACEPALM
. (Thanks to Jan K. R. N. for the facepalmery.)
Labels: Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic