Sometimes 146 -- as in points given up -- really is the lonliest number.
The Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers got what seemed like a pretty favorable matchup last night: the Suns on the second game of back-to-backs at the tail end of a five-game Eastern Conference road trip. Phill even built what looked like a reasonably comfortable 12-point halftime after the Suns came out flat for the first two quarters. Enter Steve Nash, who registered the first 20-20 in points and assists (21 points, 20 assists) since January 2, 2006...when he did it against the Knicks in New York with 28 points and 22 assists. But of course, Mike D'Antoni -- who's currently coaching the Knicks -- made Nash. Nash was nothing before D'Antoni coached him. Why, Chris Duhon put up Nash-like numbers last season. Okay, was my sarcasm obvious? I hope so.
Anyway, Phoenix outscored the Sixers 65-49 in the second half to take a 119-115 victory. So much for fatigue, huh? Nash, of course, ran the rally, scoring 9 of his points in the third quarter and then dishing two critical assists to Jason Richardson (who converted a three-point play and dropped in a layup) to turn a 106-106 tie to a 113-108 lead with about a minute and a half left to go. That was pretty much the game.
Said Andre Iguodala: "We should have had it. We were up and couldn't hold it."
Bawful note: Jared Dudley helped burn Philly with 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting (4-for-5 from downtown). Not to keep blowing Nash or anything, but Jared Dudely scored 18 critical points. But I suppose Mike D'Antoni is responsible for that, too.
Elton Brand: The 80 Million Dollar Man contributed 10 points, 2 rebounds and a plus-minus score of -5 in 21 minutes of PT. Sadly (for Philly fans), the Sixers might have won if Elton had only played as well as Jared Dudley (who also had 5 boards and 3 steals). And how's this for a damning statistic: the 76ers fell to 16-20 in games in Elton Brand has played...whereas they're 28-25 in the games he's missed. A bargain at just under $14 million per year. Clippers fans rejoice!
"It's a little frustrating not to get the win," Brand said. "We need W's."
Brand: 21 minutes, 4-of-8 from the field and 2 FT's for 10 big points, 2 boards, 1 assist; he left the game with 4:30 to go in the 3rd, never to return. I'm sure it's "a little frustrating" to the rest of the team when your "star" puts up numbers like that.
The New York Knicks: Despite being coached by The Man Who Made Steve Nash, the Bricks fell to 1-7 after losing at home to a struggling Utah Jazz squad that floundered into Madison Square Garden at 2-4. New York shot only 43 percent for the game, shanked eight free throws and missed 21 of their 29 three point attempts. Notable non-contributors included Chris "I'm no Steve Nash" Duhon (8 points, 2-for-7, 4 assists, -15) and Big Shot Larry Hughes (3-for-12). The win snapped Utah's five-game losing streak at MSG. Said Carlos Boozer: "I don't think I'd won here since I've been in a Jazz uniform. It's good to get a win here." I bet Boozer also enjoys beating little girls at Candy Land, which is only slightly harder than beat the Knicks at home these days.
Said D'Antoni: "We just tried to make them play a different game. Kirilenko got hot and that's something that hurt us. But I thought we tried. We had energy and we were active." The New York Knicks: Leading the League in Moral Victories! Not to be confused with actual victories.
Statistical note: D'Antoni's "Run 'N Gun" Bricks have scored only 90 PPG over their last four games.
The Toronto Raptors: Not only have the Spurs kinda-sorta sucked this season, they were without the services of Tim Duncan (ankle, extreme old age) and Tony Parker (ankle, extreme Frenchness). Never fear...the Craptors are here! Despite shooting 60 percent from the field and 64 percent (11-for-17) from downtown, the Mighty Dinos lost by giving up 131 points to a San Antonio squad missing its two best players. The Spurs shot 44 free throws (mmmm, home cookin'!) and got 18 points out of...Matt Bonner?! Hell, right before halftime, Bonner swooped in for a two-handed jam. Yes, failing to defend the Red Rocket helped croak the Craptors. DEFENSIVE FAIL.
Said Chris Bosh: "You can't give them any confidence. We did the opposite, we gave them confidence." You also did the opposite of winning, Chris. I'm just sayin'.
The Minnesota Timberwolves: To say the Golden State Warriors have been struggling lately is kind of like saying that Michael Bay could benefit from a Movie Making 101 class. (Seriously, Michael, you gave Devastator a nutsack in Transformers II? Really?! Oh ha fucking ha. Balls are always funny! Would you like to take a huge, steaming dump on any more of my childhood memories? God, I hate you, Michael Bay.) Anyway, considering the circumstances -- playing a truly craptastic team that was fresh off humilating beatdowns by the Clippers and Kings -- you'd have thought the T-Pups had a chance in this one. And if by "chance" you meant "giving up 146 points and losing by 41," you would have been 100 percent correct. This smackdown was so torturous that President Obama is considering canceling the rest of Minnesota's games forever.
The Warriors blistered Minny with 57 percent shooting (52 from beyond the arc) and earned 38 foul shots. Golden State scored 42 points off the fast break and notched 66 points in the paint. Moreover, the Warriors scored 47 points off the 28 turnovers the Timberpups committed. Seriously, this beating was so bad, I half-expected an ancient-looking Al Jefferson to drive up in a DeLorean with Christopher Lloyd and say, "Oh no, Doc! We were too late! WE WERE TOO LATE!"
It really hurts...
For the record, the 146 points is the most by Golden State since April Fool's Day in 1994 when the Warriors also had 146 points...against the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Historical note: The T-Wolves' starting lineup back then was Isaiah Rider, Christian Laettner, Chuck Person, Michael Williams and Stacey King. Doug West and Thurl Baily were coming off the bench. The team went 20-62. So, really, Minnesota fans...things have been worse! Sort of!) The Warriors also snatched 22 steals, which was the team's most in a single game since 1989.
Please, just make it stop...
Said Minny coach Kurt "Clothelined" Rambis: "We've maintained from the beginning this is going to be a process, this is not something that's going to turn around in the first 10 games of the regular season. We knew we were going to take some lumps. Until we have an idea of a nice starting unit and a set rotation where guys can feel comfortable and when they're going to play, we're probably going to continue to play up and down and be inconsistent." Wow. That's like General Custer saying he knew he was going to be slaughtered at the Little Big Horn.
No, really, are we done yet...?
Don Nelson, cold, hard reality machine: It's safe to say Nellie wasn't exactly impressed by his team's merciless thrashing of a helpless opponent: "You have to understand that our two wins were against teams that are struggling so I wouldn't make too much out of it."
The Los Angeles Clippers: Whew! And here I was starting to wonder if they were who we thought they were. After scraping up a couple surprising victories -- and let's face it, every Clippers win is a surprise -- the Other L.A. Team returned to their losing ways, falling by 28 at home to a bawful Hornets team that, lately, has been getting dissected more cruelly than a Michael Bay movie. (By the way, Pearl Harbor sucked ass.) And it's not like the Hornets played great. The Clippers just sucked.
Said Chris Kaman: "We didn't come mentally prepared for this game, and that's why we lost. ... Nobody played great for us." Well, that's a prime candidate for Understatement of the Year. Or the decade. Or the last-half century.
Added Mike Dunleavy (a.k.a. the predicted 2009-10 Coach of the Year): "We stopped doing the things that have been so good for us so far. We've been moving the ball and getting good shots for ourselves, but we missed some guys that were open, and didn't share the ball as well." Translation: "We suck long and hard. Fire me. Please, God, fire me."
Let's not neglect to give a shout out to the Clippers' bawesome, bawesome defense, as they held Devin Brown to a mere 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting. This is Brown's highest output since April 10, 2007, when he played -- you guessed it -- the Clippers. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Lacktion Report: There were some lacktating NBAers who had a real case of the Mondays...as Chris points out:
Suns-Sixers: As the post-Shaq, post-Marion, post-D'Antoni Suns keep rolling, the important contributions of non-contributors become more key in an effort to preserve leads and confirm victories. Jarron Collins's 1.95 trillion serves as the first piece of evidence that Phoenix IS for real this season! Could he be this year's Jud Buechler!?
Jazz-Knicks: Jordan Hill's 1.9 trillion may be enough for him to finally afford a nosebleed seat at MSG.
Raptors-Spurs: Gregg Popovich will be in the Hall of Fame due to his tendency to mostly avoid winning Coach of the Year awards, and tossing the Paperboy cartridge to Malik Hairston is one example of his successful coaching style, as that led Hairston to a 54-second Mario.
Wolves-Warriors: Minnesota's Ryan Hollins repudiated lacktivity on the surface by making one out of two field goal attempts in 18:36; however, five fouls and a giveaway against those two points and a couple of boards led to a 6:4 Voskuhl.
Hornets-Clippers: DeAndre Jordan attempted to go AWOL on the ledger with a one-shot 100% shooting percentage in 14:13, but the addition of two boards could not ultimately stop the negative momentum of fouling four times and giving up the rock thricely for a 7:4 Voskuhl. (Conversely, fellow Clipper Kareem Rush ruined a potential suck differential score by somehow jumping into the path of a New Orleans field goal attempt.)
DeAndre thus is the fourth player in the Association this season to rack up multiple Voskuhls, after Jarron Collins, Hasheem Thabeet, and Nazr Mohammed.