And this is the guy who committed the foul...The Cleveland Craboliers:
The Crabs -- who were 40-2 in Cleveland last season -- have already lost two home games in four tries this
season, despite a) having the reigning MVP and Coach of the Year, and b) adding a former MVP, four-time NBA champion and self-proclaimed Most Dominant Ever. They are, according to The Experts, "the most talented team in the league." And yet...their latest home loss came against the Bulls, a team that hasn't even shot as high as 42 percent as a team in a single game this season. That's not supposed to happen, right?
Cleveland's offense is a mess, even by coach Mike Brown's pooptastically low standards. What's more, Chicago's best defender might have been Shaq, who clogged the paint and effectively cut off several of LeBron's driving opportunities. Shades of Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor on that late 1960s, early 1970s Los Angeles Lakers team. You know, the one that went on a 33-game winning streak and captured an NBA title only after one of those guys left the team (in this case Baylor, who was nudged gently into retirement).
Last year, the Crabs won 66 games because of LeBron and the fact that their team chemistry was off the charts. This year? They still have King Crab, but that chemistry is nowhere to be seen. Nobody's grinning, laughing, or dancing on the bench. Just watch them sometime They don't look like they're having much fun at all. Which is what losing will do to a team.Mike Brown:
Each game that goes by makes his Coach of the Year award look increasingly ridiculous. At one point, he stuck with a lineup that featured both Shaq and Big Z in the frontcourt. Why not just play two statues on defense, Mike? When Brad Miller -- whose speed should be measured by a calendar instead of a stopwatch -- is coasting to the hoop at will, you know there's a problem. Unless, of course, you're 2008-09 NBA Coach of the Year Mike Brown.
Note also that, in the final 1:02 of the game, with the Crabs trailing 86-85, Mo West got two shots (a shanked three and a missed 10-footer) and LeBron got one (the final missed layup). If you're Cleveland, is Williams the guy you want taking the crunch-time shots? Absolutely not. If you're the Bulls? Absolutely. Speaking of which...Cleveland's final play:
End-of-game fail? Yes. It was kind of amazing, though, if you think about it. LeBron was getting his usual superstar calls throughout the game, including one where he busted open Kirk Hinrich's chin and another in which he got an "And one!" despite taking 17 steps after the whistle. (That play had Mike Fratello practically spitting up on himself.) So, with about three seconds left and a one-point Cleveland deficit, I figured King Crab was going to drive, get the call, and sink two foul shots for the win.
Well, he drove all right. He used his massive shoulder to body-block Luol Deng out of his way, but Joakim Noah cut him off. There was some minor contact, after which LeBron flailed his arms like a couple of wet noodles and lost the ball out of bounds. Only...no whistle. Ooooooh, yeah. And, of course, LeBron wasn't happy: "It's a call you think you may get. I felt a push from Deng and some contact over the top from Noah. Enough to put me on the free throw line? Yes. But that’s a judgment call for the officials."
Countered Noah: "I didn't feel like it was even close to being a foul. I wasn't worried because there was no contact at all." While that's not entirely true in the sense of "truth" being actual, provable facts, it was heartening to see the officials swallow their whistles considering how much of that contact was initiated by James.
More from John Krolik of Cavs: the Blog
: "As for the last play, there were 4 seconds left, and [LeBron] went to his highest-percentage play: damn the torpedoes and make a hard, decisive drive. The real issue was that Noah was there waiting for him because we'd parked 320 pounds of a guy who can't shoot or screen directly under the rim, and Hinrich made a nice rotation down to cut off that pass. Shaq shouldn't be out there in those scenarios. Period. And no, there was no foul on that play -- Noah was in perfect position, and LeBron tried to crash into him out of desperation."David Stern:
The NFL takes quick and decisive action when its players have run-ins with the law. And yet Delonte West -- who got arrested for packing enough firepower to take on a zombie apocalypse and win
-- is still on the court. Explain that to me, Mr. Commissioner.Zydrunas Ilgauskas:
Is coming off the bench killing Big Z's game? Last night's 0-for-9 performance should pretty much answer that question.The Cleveland bench:
If you take away Boobie Gibson's 8 points and 3-for-4 shooting, the Crabs' reserves (Big Z, West and J.J. Hickson) scored 4 points on 1-for-18 shooting. That's not a typo, by the way: 1-for-18.Cleveland Junk Grabbers:
From Basketbawful reader Adrian: "For your perusal, here's a pair of floor-seat-dwelling white guys taking a rare opportunity at what looks like grabbing King Crab's junk as he dived to keep the ball in play just before half-time in the Crabs-Bulls game." No wonder Cleveland fans are so worried about LeBron bolting out of town next summer...these opportunities would be lost forever...The San Antonio Spurs:
Hey, wait, what's going on? Like the Crabs, the Spurs began this season as one of the league's supposed most-talented teams. Yet, here they are, 2-2 and not looking particularly good. Last night, they looked terrible against a team that's been
terrible so far this season.
Not only were the Spurs throwing up bricks (43 percent shooting), their defense was decidedly un-Spurs-like (the Jazz hit 53 percent of their shots despite going 1-for-7 from downtown). Mind you, the Jazz hit 22 layups in the game and scored an incredible 64 points in the paint (compared to 46 for the Spurs). Utah also outscored San Antonio on the break 16-8 and outrebounded them 41-36. Basically, they got outplayed in pretty much every possible category. TOTAL FAIL.
By the way, it was Utah's first win over the Spurs since April of 2008.Greg Popovich:
I love the interviews he gives TNT between quarters. Love 'em
. Last night, when asked what his team could do to keep the Jazz out of the paint, Pop deadpanned; "Try harder." I wish I had video of every one of these interviews he's ever given.All the teams that didn't draft DeJuan Blair:
The only San Antonio player to shine last night was Blair, who finished with 14 points (7-for-10), 9 rebounds, and a better plus-minus score (+5) than any Spurs starter. Now how did he fall all the way to the second round again...?Lacktion report:
Chris, our self-styled Master of Lacktion, strikes again:
Spurs-Jazz: With Bruce Bowen out to pasture, Gregg Popovich attempted to find a stopgap good luck charm in Keith Bogans tonight. Despite a non-victorious result, Bogans did his best to bumble his way through the evening, fouling twice and losing the rock once for a +3 suck differential in 10:42.Donald Sterling: The Clippers owner is who we thought he was
Jerry Sloan's ongoing efforts to avoid being Coach of the Year via smart strategy paid off tonight, buoyed by the first lacktive appearance of Kyrylo Fesenko this year, a single-brick +1 in 2:42. Kosta Koufos continued his impressive start of sub-importance via the coinage of 1.8 trillion.
. (Hat tip: Chris.)The Sacramento Kings:
Could things possibly get any worse for this awful team? Abso-friggin-lutely
. (Hat tip: Also Chris.)Marcus Jordan:
He insisted on wearing daddy's Air Jordan shoes in a game despite his school's contract with Adidas. And now Adidas has announced it will not renew its contract with the school
. Way to be all "team first" there, Marcus.
Labels: Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Donald Sterling, Lebron James, Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Shaq, Utah Jazz